Twas the night before Christmas Town
~ A Vision Planning tale from
Terrace Park – University Square
Twas the night before Christmas Town, When all through Busch Gardens, Not a creature was stirring, except for the Planning Commission’s…
The easels were set around Gwazi Pavilion with care, In hopes the Terrace Park – University Square community soon would be there. The children were anxious and jumped from their beds, While visions of a new bicycle danced in their heads. And mammas in their ‘kerchiefs, and men with a cap, Came to the Vision Plan Open House to see what the future has on tap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, The citizens wanted to talk about community issues that matter. Around the Pavilion neighbors flew like a flash, With raffle tickets in hand, they made a mad dash. The moon on the Community Timeline display lit up all aglow Gave luster to the Policies, Goals, and Objectives listed for show. When, what to these wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a familiar-looking driver, a new excitement was born, We knew in a moment, it must be Mayor Bob Buckhorn! More special guests wanted to share, and so they came, The community whistled, and cheered, as we called them by name! “For Tampa City Council’s Lisa Montelione there was great applause! And for new Temple Terrace Mayor Frank Chillura the cheers did not pause! To the top, it’s David Pogorilich from Temple Terrace City Hall! Now here today! Here today! Here today all!” As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, The community discussed challenges, looking eye to eye. And looking to the future, the citizens they drew, Words to describe their community in a year or 22.
And then, with a twinkling, we heard on the floor, John Schueler on USF’s commitment to economic development and more. As we drew raffle tickets and were turning around, Down to the floor Busch Gardens ticket winners came with a bound. College students addressed surveys, taken to local businesses on foot, While considerations were made of where improvements could be put. A bundle of ideas were shared back to back, As Planning Commission staff worked hard to keep careful track.
Mayor Buckhorn’s eyes – How they twinkled! His dimples how merry! Lisa Montelione’s cheeks were like roses, How pleased she was very! To see the Terrace Park – University Square community drawn up like a bow, Working the City, businesses and neighbors, deciding which way they should grow. Soon the Vision Plan will be within reach, With hopes it will encircle this neighborhood like a wreath. There were drinks and snacks aplenty, Provided by Busch Gardens to fill everyone’s belly!
With everyone all in like a right jolly old elf, I laughed working alongside neighbors, not all by myself! A look at the optimism with a twist of my head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. We spoke of the future, and kept to our work, Filling out comment cards without the help of a clerk. Next, developing the draft Vision Plan may take some caffeine, Giving a nod to the calendar in early 2013. We sprang to our sleighs, and gave our team a whistle, And away we all flew like the down of a thistle. But we heard one exclaim, ‘ere we drove out of sight, “Happy Vision Planning to all, and to all, a good-night!”
Plan Hillsborough 2040 with us!
Do you have a vision for the future of Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City and Hillsborough County?
The Planning Commission and Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) are
embarking on a joint effort to update our county’s and three cities’ Comprehensive
Plans simultaneously with our countywide Long Range Transportation Plan. Several
scenarios for the year 2040’s growth and infrastructure will be drafted, and circulated
for public comment later in the year. All who are interested in crafting the scenarios,
checking the assumptions, and helping distribute an interactive survey are invited to
join the Imagine 2040 Working Group. Or sign up for Imagine 2040 just to receive
occasional email news about this important project, which will be on-going through
2013. To sign up, please click here to send us an email.
Public opinion getting on board for rail transit
Just two years ago, Hillsborough County voters convincingly rejected a proposed sales
tax hike to pay for a major investment in transit, including light rail for commuters. But
after 18 months of of public opinion research and the Metropolitan Planning
Organization’s recent endorsement of exploration of funding lower-cost
transportation improvements – a mix of transportation projects to include improved
intersections, more bus service, safer sidewalks, crosswalks, and trails, as well as pilot
rail and rapid bus projects as part of its next long range plan – there’s been a great deal
of media and public interest.
Now, a new poll sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9, and AM 820 News
Tampa Bay suggests growing support for using public money for light rail mass
transit. In Hillsborough County, Braun Research – a national firm based in Princeton, NJ
– found 56% of those surveyed said “yes,” 35% said “no,” and 9% were unsure or
declined to answer when asked if they “would be supportive of spending public or tax
money to bring light rail mass transit to parts of the Tampa Bay area.” With 60% in
support in Pinellas County, officials are considering whether to place a referendum on
public spending for mass transit on the 2014 ballot. “It creates job opportunities and
helps get people to jobs,” said Tampa resident Nadine Ellen Keris, 26. “It makes a city
more accessible to tourists.” Having grown up in Boston and attended college in
Atlanta, she’s seen the advantages of living in a city with rail firsthand, in two separate
The MPO and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn support a proposal to allow Florida’s largest
cities to opt out of state rules requiring sales tax referendums be held countywide. The
2010 referendum won support in much of the city, particularly in neighborhoods near
proposed rail lines. The more recent poll results do not seem out of whack to Ray
Chiaramonte, AICP, Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan
Planning Organization and Planning Commission, who said, “Most communities that do
this, it takes them two or three times to win public support.”
A group calling itself Connect Tampa Bay formed earlier this month to promote more
options for transportation across the region, including rail. Kevin Thurman, a political
consultant who is the group’s executive director, said he believes this poll, combined
with the survey results from the MPO, are showing a changing tide. “I think that we
definitely have a significant shift in opinion in the area and people are ready to have
this discussion again,” Thurman said.
Economic Prosperity Stakeholder Committee issues recommendations
The Hillsborough County Commission created the Economic Prosperity Stakeholder
Committee in March 2012. With their mission to examine the County’s regulatory
structure, their ultimate recommendations are intended to ease the burden and cost of
regulatory oversight on economic development while maintaining the County’s
commitment to quality of life and responsible environmental stewardship. Chaired by
Commissioner Sandra Murman and vice-chaired by Commissioner Lesley “Les” Miller,
the group recently issued an extensive report with 30 recommendations on Economic
Development/ Planning Recommendations and Regulatory Streamlining
Recommendations. Click here to view a snapshot of these 30 recommendations,
positioning the local government to be a champion of economic prosperity. These
recommendations are a major step towards changing previous mindsets and achieving
this goal. A presentation on the report will be made at the Planning Commission’s
January 14th meeting which can be viewed on HTV or via live webcast.
FSU honors Tony LaColla
In November, as part of the 20th anniversary of the Peace Corps Masters International
Program in Urban Planning, our own Tony LaColla was selected as the inaugural
honoree of the Florida State University (FSU) Outstanding Returning Peace Corp
Volunteer Award. Given to an FSU alum who exemplifies the goals of Peace Corps and
mission of the Florida State University, Tony works in comprehensive planning,
community planning, and historic preservation as senior planner with the Planning
Commission. He is active in numerous professional organizations, serves as the Vice
Chair of the American Planning Association’s Gays and Lesbians in Planning Division, as
well as the VP of Section Affairs for the Florida Chapter of the American Planning
Association (FAPA). He has previously served as the president of the Suncoast section
of FAPA and is currently the president of the Historic Ybor Neighborhood and Civic
Association. Tony’s passion for strong neighborhoods and vibrant communities
combined with his longstanding commitment to the field of planning made him well
qualified to receive this award. Congratulations, Tony!