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Parallel parking by school scrapped, but tower is a go

Published May 13, 2011

We are looking for common sense. Our public swimming pool is only open in the winter. Tell that to your Northern friends.

An idea exists to re-stripe the parking lots around Dale Mabry School, like Interbay swimming pool, for parallel parking only. If we had 80 parking spaces and 100 cars dropping off children, now we will have 40 cars trying to parallel park at 7:45 in the morning with all the school traffic. There are three schools near Estrella Street and Manhattan Avenue.

Lastly, the largest cell tower to be built in Tampa is City Council-approved for our residential neighborhood. Citywide code allows for an 80-foot cell tower if it doesn't land on a home when it falls over. Our City Council gave many variances to one company so they could install a 150-foot cell tower over a drainage pond in Culbreath Heights.

When this tower falls over, it will hit an apartment complex building in our neighborhood.

One-sided decisions without common sense aren'twin-win. If the citizens could donate money to their own neighborhood, that would be great. Instead, big companies bring their lawyers to make us behave their way.

The city responds

In April 2010, the Culbreath Heights Civic Association and nearby homeowners filed a legal appeal to block construction of a 150-foot cellular and WiFi tower at a small shopping center at 4343 Henderson Blvd. The association contended that the tower was nearly double the 80 feet normally allowed in that zoning district and that the tower could fall onto nearby properties and possibly injure someone.

But a Hillsborough County Circuit judge rejected the appeal, city attorney James H. Shimberg Jr. said. The city has maintained that it considered neighbors' concerns before the City Council approved a special use permit and variance.

The city didn't know when the tower would go up and calls to the tower's developer, F&L Towers, were not returned. The company website still lists the address as an "available raw land tower site."

The project to repaint parking lanes around Mabry Elementary School, 4201 Estrella St., has been shelved by the city, said Cathy Valdes, chief facilities officer for Hillsborough schools.

The move would have eliminated about 25 angular parking spaces near the school for a sidewalk project. But after input from the school district, parents and neighbors, the city is re-evaluating the project by taking a broader look at the surrounding neighborhood.

"Access in and around schools is a huge issue for us," Valdes said. "We're working with the parents and the PTA to come up with a workable solution. ... We haven't reached the end yet, but we all realized that we have to look at it more globally."

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Fast facts

About this series

With changing faces at City Hall - from the City Council to the mayor's office - City Times wanted to know which neighborhood concerns will face our new leaders and their ideas for resolution. So we asked community leaders to tell us. We'll publish those concerns, in residents' own voices, along with responses from officials. If you want to submit a letter for Your Voice, please send it to City Times editor Sharon Tubbs at or by mail to 1000 N Ashley Drive, Suite 700, Tampa, FL 33602.