In the wake of a shooting that left two people dead and more than a dozen injured, Tampa Council Member Gwen Henderson is calling for businesses in Ybor City, an epicenter of local history and nightlife, to close at 1 a.m. for the next six months.
Henderson will make a motion for the temporary abatement during Thursday’s regularly scheduled Council meeting, according to her office.
She is also calling on Hillsborough County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Van Ayres to consider sending a recorded message to the parents of high school students stressing that Ybor nightlife is “not a place for teenagers.” Among the victims of Sunday’s shootings was a 14-year-old boy.
The shooting, which police say broke out between two quarreling groups early Sunday morning, has stirred debate about the evolving identity of one of the city’s most storied neighborhoods. It has prompted both calls to temper late-night activity and concerns that local businesses and culture will be pushed out.
“Senseless acts of gun violence are always difficult. When it’s nearby the reality is horrific, so I have spent the past several days talking with Ybor residents, Ybor business owners, law enforcement, and Mayor Castor about what steps we can take to eliminate an environment that promotes violence during the late hours in Ybor City,” Henderson said in a statement. “It is true that there is no one-size-fits-all or flawless solution, but I am confident that we will make a difference.”
The neighborhood is in “transitional phase and has been for years,” Mayor Jane Castor told the Tampa Bay Times Monday, from a nighttime-focused economy to a greater mix of residential properties and daytime businesses.
Henderson, a Tampa native and first-time City Councilmember, told the Times earlier this week that she sees an opportunity to bring business owners, police, elected officials and residents together to craft a safe, prosperous neighborhood for all.
“This is a test of my resiliency and leadership,” she said.
In addition to the temporary abatement, Henderson says she will also make a motion Thursday directing city staff to keep East 7th Avenue open to traffic even during closing time on Fridays and Saturdays to limit loitering.
The councilmember would also like staff to identify sources of revenue “to expand community policing and step-up code enforcement to crack down on noise violations, loitering, public drinking, and other infractions,” according to a statement from her office.
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“These measures,” Henderson said, “are intended to help ensure Ybor City remains a safe and thriving neighborhood no matter what time of day.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.