Clearly there is still a lot of interest about development in the
Central Park area of Tampa. SCOPA members, please weigh in with your
arguments for proper impact assessment.
Time To Regroup On Plan To Revive Central Park
Published: Jun 6, 2004, Tampa Tribune
It's unfortunate the federal government refused to help fund the
overhaul of Central Park Village in Tampa's inner city. It is one of
the most blighted public housing projects in the state, if not the
South. Yet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
rejected the Tampa Housing Authority's bid for a $20 million grant to
replace the squalid complex.
The Hillsborough County Commission shares responsibility for our
losing bid. Commissioners stopped short an application that would
have made Tampa's bid stand above the rest.
The board refused to support a private-public proposal to create a
master- planned community on the 157-acre tract north of downtown.
The plan would have brought businesses and jobs, housing and shopping
to Tampa's withered core. It was precisely the kind of proposal that
impresses federal housing officials, who prefer to rebuild
neighborhoods, not just projects.
Commissioners refused to endorse a special taxing district that would
have reimbursed a development group called Civitas for the cost of
building roads, sewers and parking facilities in the inner city. This
would have posed little threat to taxpayers, since the money would
have come from new tax revenues generated by the new homes and
buildings in the redeveloped area.
True, the issue was complex and happened in a hurry because of the
application deadline for the grant. But rather than a genuine
interest in what was best for the community, the commissioners'
debate seemed driven by petty resentments - of Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio,
of the private developers and of former Commissioner Ed Turanchik,
who was the front man for Civitas.
Don't Miss Another Chance
This sad chapter is over and a $20 million opportunity has been lost.
Now it's time to regroup and create a plan for redoing the area. To
his credit, housing authority director Jerome Ryans vows to revive
housing for Central Park residents, one way or another.
Iorio, who supported Civitas after some hesitation, still believes a
public- private partnership can be formed to rebuild Central Park.
She's right, but she must make it a priority for it to happen. She
has to work to build support on the commission. Most important, she
has to take the lead.
While other developers may want to be involved, Civitas is not
necessarily out of the picture.
As Don Wallace, chairman of the board of directors, puts it: ``What
happens is up to the city and county. The community has 150 acres
with an unbelievable opportunity for doing something that changes the
lives of hundreds of people and their kids' lives.''
The community has lost one golden opportunity to do something to
improve those lives. Let's not lose another.