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Hillsborough Leaders Engage Public On Transportation

When local residents dream of transportation Utopia in Hillsborough County, what exactly do they see?

Do they see roads repaved and potholes filled? Widened interstates with commuter lanes? Bridges repaired? More connections between neighborhoods and cities? Expansion of rapid transit bus service? Automated "people movers"?

Is light rail on anyone's mind, for or against? And where do they dream the money will be found? 

Hillsborough County elected officials, community leaders and a soon-to-be-hired transportation consultant will begin a listening campaign with a series of public meetings soon after Labor Day.

A report on the findings will be brought in October to Hillsborough County's Transportation Policy Leadership Group, a committee of the seven county commissioners, mayors of Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace, and the chairman of HART (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit). 

"We're not selling anything, but we want to be able to bring back something that will be useful to you," says Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill. He spoke to the group on August 12 before a packed county commission chamber.

Documents and a video show the magnitude of transportation problems facing the county. 

Estimates for roads, bridges, trails and sidewalks in all parts of the county is pegged at $4.3 billion. The cost of repaving roadways alone is estimated at $745 million. Projects for walk/bike trails and sidewalks is about $680 million.

Depending on chosen options, mass-transit could be another $6 billion. 

Funding could come through a one cent sales tax that county commissioners appear ready to put to a referendum in 2016. If approved, estimates are for more than $6 billion to be collected over 30 years.

Ideas include widening five miles of Cypress Avenue; bus rapid transit and a rail option between the University of South Florida and downtown Tampa; bus rapid transit on U.S. 60 to and from Brandon; and, a water ferry from Gibsonton to MacDill with later expansion to downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Policy planners clearly have in mind the political thumping that voters gave to a light rail referendum nearly four years ago. Voters then complained about the lack of specifics.

"That was very muddy. That's what happened to it," says County Commissioner Les Miller."We want to make sure it's crystal clear."

County Commissioner Victor Crist is concerned about time constraints in reaching out to the public by October. "I'm not sure we have enough time to sell this," he says.

But Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is ready to forge ahead. "We've got to have a game," says Buckhorn. "I don't know any other way to play than full throttle. ...I can tell you sooner is better than later."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Mike Merrill, Les Miller, Victor Crist, Hillsborough County; Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa

Water Works Park Opens With Fanfare, Fireworks

The re-invention of Tampa's urban core is mere child's play at Water Works Park.

For many years the riverfront park land sat unused behind a chain link fence, but on Aug. 12 a ribbon-cutting ceremony will officially open the re-designed park. The following Saturday will continue the celebrations with a festival and fireworks show.

For Tampa Heights' residents, the $7.4 million investment in Water Works is especially significant. The park, at 1720 Highland Ave., and the adjacent soon-to-open Ulele Restaurant are the most visible signs the neighborhood's master plan for redevelopment is taking root. More transformation is promised in future with redevelopment of the nearby historical Armature Works building and about 37 riverfront acres owned by SoHo Capital which plans a mixed use project known as The Heights.

"It's a big deal," says Brian Seel, president of the Tampa Heights Civic Association. "Everyone has been waiting for (the park) patiently."

The Aug. 16 festival will have food trucks, children’s activities and entertainment. Friends of Tampa Recreation Inc. will sell alcohol, with proceeds going towards programming in Tampa's parks.  The fireworks display will begin at approximately 9 p.m.

Work crews with Biltmore Construction are finishing up the park and laying in landscaping in time for the August opening. Dozens of volunteers spent a recent weekend cleaning algae from Ulele Spring, nestled between the park and the restaurant. Manatees, ducks and egrets are among the wildlife already spotted along the spring's banks.

The play area resembles a ship. There also is a splash pad, a performance pavilion and open lawns for special park events. A kayak launch, eight boat slips and a water taxi will be installed once permits are approved.

Water Works and Ulele will be the northern anchors of the city's 1.8 mile-long Riverwalk, which when completed later this year will link Tampa Heights with Channelside.

“This park is transformative for historic Tampa Heights and our urban core but also for our entire city. It’s another point of connection with the Hillsborough River, and will be a space for entertainment and activity,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. 

The civic association is thinking ahead.  "We'll probably host small events and get-togethers for the neighborhood," Seel says.

The civic association already is planning a music festival at the park for Nov. 22. Tampa Electric Company and Ulele's owner, Richard Gonzmart, will sponsor what could become an annual event. A portion of the festival's proceeds would aid the restoration of the former Faith Temple Baptist Church at Palm Avenue and Lamar Street.

Every weekend for nearly four years volunteers for the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association have pitched in to rehabilitate the historical church which will be re-opened as a youth and community center.
  
A walking trail that slips past the Tampa Heights Community Garden on Frances Avenue and the future community center stops now at Seventh Avenue. But eventually the trail is planned as a link to the Riverwalk with possible offshoots to Perry Harvey Sr. Park and the Encore project, a mixed use, mixed-income residential and commercial development north of downtown.

"We're connecting with everything," says Lena Young-Green, president of the junior civic association. "We see it all circulating then expanding all through the neighborhoods."

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; Brian Seel, Tampa Heights Civic Association; Lena Young-Green, Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association

Construction Progresses On Pinellas Side Of Courtney Campbell Trail

The Courtney Campbell Causeway is known more for the vehicular traffic that zooms overland between Tampa and Clearwater's beaches. But pedestrians and bicylists can expect in the near future to make that entire trek on a parallel Courtney Campbell Trail, and along the way enjoy breathtaking views of Old Tampa Bay.

The trail on the Hillsborough County side of the bay is complete along with Tampa's new Cypress Point Park playground and a 45-foot high bridge at the county line between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The next phase involves the trail's tie-in to Pinellas and Clearwater.

Completion of the project by Pepper Contracting is more than a year away, according to Florida Department of Transportation officials. Trail and road widening are under way. In addition the causeway will be repaved and a small pedestrian bridge built. Test piles for the bridge are installed.

When finished, the trail will allow pedestrian and bicycle access from Veteran's Expressway in Tampa to Bayshore Boulevard on the eastern edge of Clearwater. Bayshore leads to Safety Harbor and more trails. It also will connect with additional recreational trails on both sides of the Bay. 

The approximately 9.5 mile causeway trail is a project championed by the Westshore Alliance, which last year unveiled a Public Realm Master Plan to make the Westshore neighborhoods of Tampa more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Trails, wider sidewalks and narrower traffic lanes are among the recommendations.

"We're excited about the trail. It will be one of the premier trails in the entire United States," says Ron Rotella, executive director of the Westshore Alliance, which represents the interests of the Westshore Business District.

The district is Florida's largest office community with more than 4,000 businesses and 93,000 employees.

The Westshore area is booming with new shops, restaurants and offices. But residents of established neighborhoods, such as Carver City and Lincoln Gardens, soon will have new neighbors moving into more than 1,700 apartments either under construction or ready for leasing. "We're turning into a neighborhood as well," Rotella says.

Many of the new apartments front Boy Scout Boulevard which is slated for resurfacing later this year. Plans also are to widen sidewalks and enhance existing cross walks.

The alliance is contributing about $113,000 to help with pedestrian improvements and make it easier to walk to International Plaza as well as shops and restaurants on Westshore Boulevard. In the 2014-2015 Hillsborough County budget, Rotella anticipates about $1.3 million for a Westshore Boulevard redesign.

And he also is looking ahead to another trail segment from Dale Mabry Highway at Interstate 275 to Hesperides Street with a tie-in to Cypress Point Park and then onto Clearwater via the Courtney Campbell Trail.

 "Being able to access a beautiful waterway, that is a great advantage for the business district," Rotella says.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Ron Rotella, Westshore Alliance

Urbanism On Tap 3.2: 'The Social Side of Development' – An Open Mic Night About Downtown Tampa

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at the Pour House in the Channel District of Downtown Tampa on May 13, 2014 starting at 5:30 p.m. 

Urbanism on Tap is a recurring open mic event focused on generating constructive conversations within the community about current ideas and trends that are shaping our city.

Every event is open to the public. Moderators and attendees are invited to share their views and stories related to the topic of the day. The intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will enhance the ability to make Tampa a more livable city.

The upcoming event is the second in a three-part series, entitled “Tampa: The New Building Boom.” This second event, “The Social Side of Development,” will focus on the social aspects of development happening around Downtown Tampa. How will this development affect residents? Is there anything missing? What ways can people provide input on these issues? The organizers welcome comments and ideas on how new development may influence the lives of residents and on how residents can work to influence new development. 

The event organizers encourage people to share their opinions on these topics by visiting Urbanism on Tap’s online Facebook page. People can also use the Facebook page and website to continue the conversation online, following the event. 

Venue: Pour House at Grand Central at Kennedy, Channel District, Tampa (1208 E Kennedy Blvd #112, Tampa, FL 33602); 
Date and Time: May 13, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
For any questions, email Ashly Anderson

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry, CNU Tampa Bay; Ashly Anderson, Urban Charrette

Historic Bungalow Turns Into Welcome Center, Safe House For LGBT Community

A historical bungalow will soon be home to the LGBT Welcome Center and Coffeehouse, a gathering place for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and visitors to the Tampa Bay region.
 
An opening date is scheduled for June 27-29, the weekend of the St. Pete Pride Street Festival and Promenade, one of the country's largest gay pride events. However, funds are needed to complete on-going renovations.
 
At 7 p.m. April 11, The Studio @620 will host "Queery", a live music and art show to benefit the welcome center. The show will feature musical performances by Mark Castle, Young Egypt, Laser Collins + Lars Warn and artwork by Mia Culbertson, Emily Miller and Priscilla 3000. A $5 donation will be collected at the door. The Studio is located at 620 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg.
 
Creating a welcome center at 2227 Central Ave. is a long-time goal of the nonprofit Metro Wellness and Community Centers, which for more than 20 years has provided the Tampa Bay community with a range of HIV services, wellness and social programs. The organization has locations in St. Petersburg, Tampa and New Port Richey.
 
"(The welcome center) will connect tourists and residents to our services and offer new space for a hangout and to hold meetings, to have classes, meet with friends and for dates," says Adam Jahr, Metro's program manager. "One of our goals is to be a safe space for at-risk and troubled youth."

Nearly half of the LGBT youth are bullied, says Jahr, adding that data also shows that about 40 percent of homeless youth are from the LGBT community.
 
The welcome center also will offer travel resources for visitors, such as special deals for dining and entertainment, and general information on arts, cultural events, ticket locations and "things to do" in the Tampa Bay area.
 
The bungalow was donated to the nonprofit and relocated a short distance from the historical Kenwood neighborhood to the Grand Central district. It sits next door to Metro's thrift store on Central Avenue.
 
In a "Name a Room" campaign, approximately $140,000 is being sought to renovate bungalow rooms including the living and dining rooms, kitchen and reading room. If you are interested in naming a room, contact Larry Biddle at 813-417-1225.
 
There also are opportunities to donate for items such as coffee mugs or t-shirts, and commemorative tiles to be installed in the bungalow's fireplace.
 
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Adam Jahr, Metro Wellness and Community Centers

Building Boom: An Open Mic Night About Urban Tampa

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at the Pour House in the Channel District of downtown Tampa on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 starting at 5:30 pm.

Led by Urban Charrette and CNU Tampa Bay, Urbanism on Tap is a recurring open mic event, focused on generating constructive conversation within the community about current ideas and trends that are shaping our city.

Every event is open to the public. Moderators and attendees are invited to share their views and stories related to the topic of the day. The intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will help make Tampa a more livable city.

The March event is the first in a new three-part series, entitled "Tampa: The New Building Boom.'' The first event, "New Buildings, New City?'' will focus on new developments, and how they are changing Tampa's urban landscape. What do you love? What is missing? The organizers welcome ideas on the challenges facing Tampa, and the influence new developments will have on the growth of the city in coming years.

The event organizers encourage people to share their photos and opinions on these topics by visiting Urbanism on Tap's Facebook page. People can also use the Facebook page and website to continue the conversation online, following the event.

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry, CNU Tampa Bay, and Ashly Anderson, Urban Charrette

Next Urbanism On Tap: 'Where Do You Come From?'

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at New World Brewery in Ybor City on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, starting at 5:30 p.m. This open mic format event is designed to generate constructive conversations about current ideas and trends that are shaping Tampa.

The event entitled "Where Do You Come From?'' is the third in a three-part series that started last fall. It will focus on understanding some critical questions such as: Why does one choose to live in a particular neighborhood? How do you know you are in your neighborhood? How should the neighborhood change and what should stay the same? Seeking answers to some of these key questions will help us understand the issues and challenges in our neighborhoods and the role these building blocks play in our City.

In the event, the organizers intend to engage attendees with innovative tools like preparing ''mind maps.'' Mind Maps are people's perception about their neighborhoods and the places they visit on a regular basis. It may be a rough hand drawn map or an image, or text, which conveys how one associates and perceives his or her neighborhood.

The organizers encourage people to share their photos and things they like about their neighborhood by visiting Urbanism on Tap's online Facebook page. People can also use apps available on smart phones to make mind maps and post it online.

Overall, the intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will enhance the ability to make Tampa a more livable city.

Urbanism on Tap is an event focused on generating a dialogue within the community led by the Urban Charette and CNU Tampa Bay. Moderators and attendees can share their stories related to the topic of the day. Every event is open to the public, and all are invited to attend and share their views.

Following the event, everyone is encouraged to continue the conversation online through the Urbanism on Tap's Facebook page or website.

Venue: New World Brewery, Ybor City (1313 8th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605)
Date and Time: Tuesday, January 14, from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
For more information, email Ashly Anderson

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry and Ashly Anderson, CNU Tampa Bay

Alternative Art Gallery Moves Into New Space In Seminole Heights

Tempus Projects art gallery didn't move very far from where it started more than three years ago, but the new address is opening up a world of artistic opportunities.
 
At 7 p.m. on Dec. 21 Tempus Projects will host an open house at its new digs at 4636 N. Florida Ave. That's only a few blocks from its former address, also on Florida.
 
"The old space was just about 800 square feet. It was a converted garage behind a commercial building. We didn't have air conditioning or a bathroom," says Founder and Creative Director Tracy Midulla Reller. "As far as alternative space goes, it was very alternative."
 
Now Tempus Projects has it all: a visible storefront, more space with high ceilings, air conditioning and bathrooms that meet federal handicap accessibility standards. And, there is more wall space and room space for exhibits as well as musical and performance art shows. 
 
For now though Reller says, "The space will be very raw. (The open house) is just a sneak preview to see the bare bones of the space layout, and to have a holiday party."
 
Reller is an art professor at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa's historic Ybor City. Tempus Projects is part of a burgeoning artists' colony in Seminole Heights. Artists Taylor Pilote, Theo Wujcik and Roger Chamieh are among those who show their works at Tempus Projects.
 
Tempus' board of directors began looking for a new location to rent in June when it was clear a larger venue was needed.
"It's because we needed to be able to house large projects," Reller says. 
 
Reller started Tempus Projects in 2009 with a handful of artists. It was a collaborative endeavor to foster artistic works from all mediums including painting, sculpture, multi-media and performance art. For the second year Tempus Projects will work with the Gasparilla Arts Festival in presenting a multi-media exhibit.
 
The nonprofit is supported by community grants, donations and fund-raising events.

Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Tracy Midulla Reller, Tempus Projects

Popular Davis Islands Dog Beach Reopens

After experiencing a 6-month closure to undergo a major renovation, the Davis Islands Dog Beach is now open to local four-legged friends and dog-lovers to enjoy.

The City of Tampa Parks and Recreation began work on the $273,082 project on Monday, June 10th. The beach restoration project included building an offshore break water, installing artificial reef modules and adding improved seating, fencing and new sand, which will prevent future shore erosion.

"Waves from passing ships eroded the beach and shoreline, exposing rubble and making it unsafe for dogs and their owners,'' says Linda Carlo, the City's superintendent at the Office of Special Events.

Additionally, the City repaired and re-paved the boat ramp and added new Florida-friendly landscaping to the area.

"The Davis Islands dog beach is beloved by the local community. Residents and their four-legged friends come from all over the city to use this park, and now after these improvements, it will be safe and pet-friendly once again,'' says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Two local Davis Islands business owners, Carolyn Bigley of Davis Islands Pet Care and Jenn Fadal of Wag Natural Pet Market and Bathhouse, teamed up to create the nonprofit Friends of Davis Islands Dog Parks -- an on-going, long-term community effort in partnership with Friends of Tampa Recreation, Inc.

Friends currently assists the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department in maintaining both the Davis Islands Dog Beach and Dog Park, and fully supported the city's decision to improve the beach despite the six-month closure.

"This is an opportunity for a fresh start and to keep it maintained and looking beautiful,'' the group said in a statement. "We're excited about the long-term benefits to our dog beach.''

Funds for the project will come from Community Investment Tax (CIT). The Davis Islands dog beach is located at 1002 Severn St. on Davis Islands and is open daily until sunset.

"Parks immeasurably improve the quality of life for our residents, and I know many, many people will be happy to have this one improved,'' Buckhorn says.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Bob Buckhorn and Linda Carlo, City of Tampa

Urbanism On Tap Opens Mic For Talk About Citybuilding

Tampa's Urban Charrette  and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay Chapter will host Urbanism on Tap at New World Brewery in Ybor City on November 12 starting at 5:30 pm. This open mic format event is designed to generate constructive conversations about current ideas and trends that are shaping our city.

The event is the second in a three-part series, entitled "How Do You Get There?'' It will focus on understanding some critical questions such as: How does one get to places which they like in Tampa? What determines our choices in getting around the city that we like so much? How do we as residents and citizens of Tampa envision its future with respect to access and mobility? Seeking answers to some of these key questions will help us understand the transportation issues and challenges that we face in our daily lives.

Overall, the intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will enhance our ability to make Tampa, a more livable City.

Urbanism on Tap is an event focused on generating a dialogue within the community led by the Urban Charette and CNU Tampa Bay. Moderators and attendees can share their stories related to the topic of the day. Every event is open to the public, and all are invited to attend and share their views.

Following the event, everyone is encouraged to continue the conversation online through the Urbanism on Tap's Facebook page or website.

Venue: New World Brewery, Ybor City, 1313 8th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605
Date and Time: Nov. 12th from 5:30 p.m to 7 p.m
For any questions, email Ashly Anderson

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry and Ashly Anderson, CNU Tampa Bay

Love Your City? Participate In Local Tactical Urbanism Workshop

Urbanists from all over the Tampa Bay region are invited to participate in a Tactical Urbanism Movement workshop on Wednesday, October 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Beck Group, 220 West 7th Avenue, in Tampa.

Tactical Urbanism is a rapidly growing international movement of small-scale, temporary, low-cost, high-reward actions that lead to an immediate improvement in a community's public life, often followed by long-term urban interventions. Guerilla Gardening, Pavement-to-Parks or Reclaiming a Parking Space are some of the examples of Tactical Urbanism that are currently being applied by citizens in many U.S. cities.
 
The local Tactical Urbanism Workshop is coordinated by the Sun Coast Section of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, in collaboration with the Congress for New Urbanism-Tampa Bay. Mike Lydon, an internationally recognized planner, writer and an advocate for livable cities, will lead the workshop.

"It will be exciting to be a part of this urban place-making movement that is currently sweeping our country's major cities,'' says Lauren Matzke, a Clearwater City Planner and the workshop's main coordinator.

As a part of the workshop, participants will get hands-on experience in planning and intervening on an actual site in Downtown Tampa. Apart from promising a fun planning experience, the workshop also intends to train the participants on how to plan, fund and carry out these projects throughout the Tampa Bay region.

The event is expected to draw a variety of participants such as engaged citizens, stakeholders, designers, engineers, urban planners, students, local leaders, government officials and other advocates who are passionate about their city and urban experiences. You can RSVP here.

Tactical Urbanism was named as one of the top trends in 2012 by the urban planning website Planetizen. Implementation of this movement in the Tampa Bay region is expected to inspire innovative planning ideas, urban interventions and collaborations.

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Lauren Matzke, City of Clearwater

New Trail Along Courtney Campbell Will Be For Bicycling, Walking

The Courtney Campbell Causeway connecting Tampa and Clearwater is undergoing resurfacing improvements and enhancements, including the addition of new pedestrian and bicycle trails physically separated from the road.

The overall $23 million project along State Road 60 is being built by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), FDOT received $14.6 million in federal funding, which is dedicated for walking and biking infrastructure, to build the nine-mile trail.

A 12-foot-wide, multiuse pedestrian trail on the south side of the Causeway is expected to be completed in October 2013.  The north side of the Causeway will host a five-foot sidewalk, which is scheduled to open in 2014. 

"The idea for the trail was generated by the Courtney Campbell Scenic Highway Corridor Advisory Committee," says Michelle Ogilvie of the Hillsborough Planning Commission.  "The committee worked with the local Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and FDOT toward producing a feasibility study for the trail concept in 2008."

The sea level Courtney Campbell Causeway received the Scenic Highway Corridor Designation in 2005. It provides a picturesque and vital link across the body of water called Old Tampa Bay. 

"It’s our brand, our identity and the trail will provide a safe place to enjoy this link," says Ogilvie. "The trail will strengthen the relationship between the counties, ecotourism will expand, and the trail will help forge a regional identity and economy."

The Courtney Campbell Trail will connect existing trail developments on both sides of the Bay, serving as a resource to the region.

Writer: Taryn Sabia
Source: Michelle Ogilvie. Hillsborough Planning Commission

Encore Rising: Downtown Tampa’s Mixed-Use Redevelopment Grows

Encore, the $425 million mixed-use redevelopment venture between the Tampa Housing Authority and the Banc of America Community Development Corporation, spans 12 city blocks of downtown Tampa, where Cass Street meets Nebraska Avenue.

The emerging neighborhood not only spans the physical distance between Ybor City and the Central Business District, it bridges generations of people while recognizing the city's rich musical history.

Four Encore residential buildings are in various stages of development. Ella, is already home to active, senior residents and nearly 100 percent occupied. Trio is designed for families with children, singles and couples. Preleasing for the mixed-income apartment homes will begin toward the end of the year. Reed, will break ground in mid-August and will be home to active seniors. Tempo, currently in design, will begin construction in early 2014 and families can choose from one, two, three or four bedroom mixed-income apartment homes.

Young professionals, families and active seniors alike will be moving into downtown Tampa’s Encore development. Of the combined 649 units, 305 are dedicated for active seniors.   

"We welcome our first residents, and look forward to having many others join them as this vibrant downtown neighborhood continues to take shape," says Senior VP Eileen Pope of Banc of America Community Development Corporation.  The project will continue over the next seven to nine years and when complete, more than 2,500 people will call Encore home.

From environmentally sustainable construction and public art to a new park and public middle school, Encore brings together Tampa's history with vibrant redevelopment, serves as a catalyst for economic investment and creates an enduring future through a multigenerational neighborhood.

Writier: Taryn Sabia
Source: Eileen Pope, Banc of America Community Development Corporation

Adamo Drive Mural Nears Completion, Ybor City

After two years of fundraising efforts and months of work, the Adamo Drive Mural project is making progress toward completion.

The approximately $30,000 project is expected to enhance the appeal of the Ybor City Historic District, transforming industrial weather-beaten portions of Adamo Drive into a work of art representing the culture, heritage and vitality of both Ybor City and Tampa; the mural covers the rear exterior of a 370-by-35-foot space on the 12,000-square-foot Fabricated Products Building at 17th Street and Adamo Drive.

“Art projects such as these not only help to illustrate a rich history and bring students, artists and residents together, but they can stimulate a renewal of energy in urban areas,” says Dave Scott, the project's organizer. “Recently, several major cities such as Omaha, Nebraska and Chattanooga, Tennessee have embraced similar art projects as a smart investment to attract potential investors, visitors and residents. I hope this mural is the spark that helps ignite a greater spirit of renewal in Ybor and the downtown area.”

Spanning two blocks, project organizers believe the Adamo Drive Mural to be one of the largest outdoor murals in the state of Florida. Designed by local artist Mike Parker, the mural depicts the vitality of Ybor City, focusing on the people and families that continue to make the neighborhood what it is today: One continuously welcoming and embracing new ideas, businesses and faces.

“The mural is a tribute to the history of Ybor City. It even reflects the character of the neighborhood today; it’s bright, interesting, and forward-looking,” says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Public art projects like this are an important economic driver and help us define Ybor as a creative place.”

As part of the preplanning process for the project, Parker taught a class at  Hillsborough Community College where students immersed themselves into the history, heritage and current feel of the Ybor City neighborhood. Through research of the neighborhood and interviews with residents, Parker and the HCC students were able to integrate the results into a mural that tells the story of Ybor City.

“We too often forget that Tampa has one of the greatest examples of people embracing the 'American Dream',” Scott says. “The mural can be an inspiration to all of us to make the most of our talent and potential -- an important perspective for the renaissance of Ybor and the growth of the Tampa Bay area.”

An on-site dedication by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and local community leaders is planned for the community-driven project on Tuesday, May 21st at 2 p.m.

In addition to the City of Tampa and Ybor City Development Corporation, the project has been supported by local businesses including the Columbia Restaurant, Rotary International, Kimmins Contracting Corp., Vykin Corp., Actsoft Inc., Hoffman Porges Gallery, Fabricated Products, Ybor City Round Table, Protective Coating Solutions, Inc., Safway Scaffolding and Acccess Solutions, Corrosion Specialties, Inc., Sherwin-Willliams, Ring Power's Cat Rental Store, Glendale Painting Corp., Empire Paint, Brandon School of Dance Arts, Salem Enterprise Solutions, Radiant Oil, Bad Monkey Ybor, Special Forces Motorcycle Club, Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club and La Gaceta.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Sources: Dave Scott, Adamo Drive Mural; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

Tampa Resident Plans First Handicap-Friendly Dog Park, Seminole Heights

A local resident is working toward building Tampa's first handicap-friendly dog park.

Located on the western side of Henry and Ola Park at 502 West Henry Ave., the Seminole Heights Dog Park is slated to feature a large green space for pups to enjoy without the restraints of a leash, including water fountains, handicap-accessible cement pathways and various activities.

“Seminole Heights has a strong history and we deserve the same -- if not better -- amenities that we find in other parts of Tampa,” says Seminole Heights Dog Park Founder Mauricio Rosas.

According to Rosas, the park will become the City of Tampa's first handicap-friendly dog park and will be dedicated to service animals, as well as first responder K9s who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Rosas, who lives with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and has an 8-year-old service dog named Roscoe, decided to present the Seminole Heights Dog Park idea to the City of Tampa Park and Recreations Department because he thought Seminole Heights was lacking public green spaces for both dogs and their owners to enjoy; a main focus for Rosas was that dogs needed to be able to enjoy being outside, free from leashes.

“Service dogs can pretty much go in and out of anywhere and, if they're training, have free rein in public parks,” he says. “I think other dogs need to have the same opportunity as Roscoe. This project is about the community.”

Already backed by an extensive list of local sponsors including Dallas 1 Construction and Development, Seminole Heights Foundation, Courteous Canine, Ginger Snips Beauty Salon and Spa, Health Mutt, Phoenix Glass Studio, Forever Beautiful Salon and Wine Spa and Mickey's Cafe and Bakery, Rosas is looking for 16 businesses that can raise approximately $2,500 each to cover the initial $38,000 in project costs, which is expected to see completion within one year.

A fundraiser for the park will be held on May 5th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Courteous Canine's main campus in Lutz at 3414 Melissa Country Way. The event is expected to feature Taco Bus, a local mobile grooming truck, free dog training advice and agility courses. For more information on how to volunteer or become involved with Seminole Heights Dog Park, visit the official Facebook page.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Mauricio Rosas, Seminole Heights Dog Park
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