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'A lot of guts' in Temple TerraceTidbits from the past week

A recap of some of the past week's news events:

The city of Temple Terrace spends millions to create something that sounds good in theory but is hard to pull off in Florida: a new urbanist town center of housing mixed with stores.

Sometime after voters reject a tax hike for this fantasy, city officials wake up to the reality that much of the land is locked up in a long-term lease with Sweetbay supermarkets.

The housing market, meanwhile, goes into cooldown mode. Who's got money for stylish urban apartments? Will this all amount to a prettier shopping center for Sweetbay to anchor?

Go ahead, laugh. Laugh at the project bidder who wanted to put City Hall on top of the supermarket.

But give them this much credit:

They could have put the project on mothballs until after the November election.

But no, said the mayor. That would not be responsible.

And so the City Council hired a new contractor last week, and it's all systems go.

"I think our council honestly made a statement that, regardless of how they might feel, we want the project to go forward,'' said community services director Ralph Bosek.

"I was proud of them. They showed a lot of guts.''

So what about the apartments?

Don't worry, Bosek said. Two to three years from now, when the town center takes form, the housing market could very well be hot again.

Riverfront housing, meanwhile, will remain a part of the project's first phase, he said. "The more rooftops we get in the area, the better."

* * *

In Westchase they have a big contest every December to see who has the nicest holiday decorations. Just say it. Christmas.

But when a priest tries to display a Celtic cross, they say he cannot because it might offend the Jews and Muslims.

* * *

County Commission candidate Joe Redner goes on the offense against longtime incumbent Jim Norman for securing $1-million in county money to protect the people of Cheval against Suncoast Parkway noise.

Wait a minute. You're saying voters who want to retire Norman have no alternative except Joe Redner?

* * *

In New Tampa they do the "don't move our children" dance after the Hillsborough County School District considers transferring Cory Lake Isles children from Pride Elementary School to Heritage Elementary.

Too many poor children at Heritage, the Pride parents say. "We moved into Cory Lake Isles because of the elementary school,'' one woman writes in an e-mail to the administration, which later drops the whole idea.

Okay, then. You bought perhaps $1-million worth of real estate in the middle of nowhere for use of a Florida public school.

* * *

A footnote about the Norman vs. Redner match: There is an independent candidate, educator Yamel Arronte.

And, to the reader last week who thought my column about the cooler weather sounded angry: You have a point about the weather, it is glorious.

But if you think it's going to be fun driving in Carrollwood a month from now, I leave you with just one word.

Lowe's.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at sokol@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5307.

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