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Tampa Palms floats ideas for surplus

The community association asked residents for proposals for what to do with its budget surplus. One plan involves a boathouse and canoes.

It seems that everyone these days is trying to figure out what to do with a budget surplus.

Gov. Jeb Bush proposes tax cuts, new programs for the elderly and a renewed effort to save the Everglades with Florida's extra cash. President Bill Clinton wants to expand health care for the poor and refurbish American Indian reservations with the nation's fatter wallet.

Tampa Palms, which has a bit less cash to deal with, may build a boathouse and fill it with canoes for residents who want to paddle along the Hillsborough River.

Armed with an undisclosed surplus of money, the Tampa Palms Owners Association is considering a bevy of suggestions from residents on what to do with it.

One of the more intriguing proposals is to build a boathouse south of Flatwoods Park at the community's river park for residents to use at their leisure.

"We'd have to make sure our liability insurance is in order, but that idea is on the top of the list," said Maura Lear, community association manager.

In an open letter to homeowners sent out Jan. 3, the association asked for ideas on what to do with its budget surplus.

More than a dozen suggestions poured in, from hiring special-duty police officers charged with curbing speeding in the community to changing the style of the neighborhood's mailboxes.

Several people asked for upgrades at Compton Park. One wanted new basketball hoops; another wanted the tennis courts refurbished.

But the proposal to build the boathouse and stock it with canoes _ which could be accessed only with a Tampa Palms identification card _ is an early favorite. The resident who proposed the idea got 15 signatures supporting it, Lear said.

Lear wouldn't disclose how much of a budget surplus the neighborhood has, saying association president Liz DeAmbrose advised her not to.

"She doesn't feel it appropriate that we give out the numbers," Lear said. The association mails its budget to residents once a year.

A newsletter will be sent to residents this weekend, outlining the suggestions that have come in so far, Lear said. A decision on what project or projects to approve will be made later this year.

_ David Pedreira can be reached at (813) 226-3463 or