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Old June 16th, 2007, 08:07 PM   #61
HARTride 2012
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In my opinion, the Riverwalk will never get fully finished. Nor will it be done in the extent that Iorio wants it to be. Since day one, I've always thought of the Riverwalk to be one of Iorio's prime pet projects. I can understand her vision of making Tampa a vital arts district, but let's face it. The Tampa Museum of Art has had countless problems, getting around downtown Tampa itself is horrendous, and Iorio's vision for a light rail system will never happen. I think that it is time that these politicians cut away the pet projects and pork spending and focus on something more productive.
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Old June 16th, 2007, 08:12 PM   #62
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Just to add, I cannot forget that Iorio and the rest of the city was "englufed" in San Antonio's (as in Texas) riverwalk, which happens to be situated along a canal-like river that is well below street level. What Iorio is trying to do is build something very similar along a river that is at street level. In my opinion, trying to build this riverwalk in an environment that is totally different than another city's is not going to work.

Say what you please, but this is just my opinion on the riverwalk. Please don't take it too personally. Thanks...
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Old June 16th, 2007, 09:58 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by wslupecki View Post

Just to add, I cannot forget that Iorio and the rest of the city was "englufed" in San Antonio's (as in Texas) riverwalk, which happens to be situated along a canal-like river that is well below street level. What Iorio is trying to do is build something very similar along a river that is at street level. In my opinion, trying to build this riverwalk in an environment that is totally different than another city's is not going to work.
I don't agree. From what I have seen of the riverwalk plans, it will be little like San Antonio's. Tampa's would have far more open park space and be more than just a foodcourt. SA's riverwalk is a Disney-style man-made canal with Disney-style canal boats. I'm surprised they're not connected to a railing at the bottom of the canal.

I'm just glad someone is finally trying to do something with DT Tampa's greatest asset, the waterfront.
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Old June 17th, 2007, 01:17 AM   #64
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I'm all for the Riverwalk, and the money spent to build it. If we want a vital urban downtown, the Riverwalk is a must.
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Old June 17th, 2007, 03:12 AM   #65
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Yea I feel that this riverwalk is a very integral part of the whole look of DT, the whole new sense of the ever-improving DT and channelside district. Having this riverwalk will greatly increase the property values around it, as well as increase the value of the location of UT, which is another vital resource of $$$ spending in DT when these small restaurants and shops begin to pop-up. Im very surprised a private developer has not gotten together with the city and created some plan where they will fund the construction of the riverwalk, and have first dibs on the retail/shops/entertainment/restaurants in the area, possibly creating little small booths and kiosks or smaller buildings around the riverwalk and then lesseing the space??just an idea that could help finance it faster
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Old June 17th, 2007, 06:07 AM   #66
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I'm for the riverwalk if it is done well and they don't choke all hte access to DT and make it a playground for a few.
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Old June 18th, 2007, 07:25 AM   #67
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I don't agree. From what I have seen of the riverwalk plans, it will be little like San Antonio's. Tampa's would have far more open park space and be more than just a foodcourt. SA's riverwalk is a Disney-style man-made canal with Disney-style canal boats. I'm surprised they're not connected to a railing at the bottom of the canal.

I'm just glad someone is finally trying to do something with DT Tampa's greatest asset, the waterfront.
I'm laughing at the whole "Disney-style" crap. Maybe they should have had a mini-monorail system to go with the boats too (just kidding). But all I was doing was stating my view on the Riverwalk. I have no REAL BIG PROBLEMS with the project. I just think it's a waste of Iorio's time trying to really focus on it. But then again, if a nice arts district is what she wants, then so be it. That's what she'll get (at least some of it).
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Old June 27th, 2007, 02:44 PM   #68
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City May Take Riverwalk Segment Into Its Own Hands

By LINDSAY WILKES-EDRINGTON The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jun 27, 2007

TAMPA - With the future of Trump Tower Tampa uncertain, Mayor Pam Iorio has asked the Parks and Recreation Department to explore the possibility of buying the land and turning it into a park as part of the Riverwalk project.

"We want to make sure that part of the Riverwalk gets built in a timely manner," Iorio said. "The owners first have to be willing to sell and it has to be a reasonable price, but this could be a continuation of what we've already done, so it makes sense."

The city has yet to figure out how much the land on Ashley Drive would cost, Riverwalk manager Lee Hoffman said. No talks have taken place with the owner, SimDag LLC.

According to county property records, SimDag bought the land - less than a half-acre - for $16 million in 2004.

After plans for Trump Tower Tampa were announced in January 2005, developers encountered problems with the land's soil and construction costs. Now the project faces a lawsuit from Donald Trump, who seeks more than $1 million in unpaid developer fees and says he wants his name off the deal.

A SimDag spokesman could not be reached for comment, but the company issued a statement this month that says it intends to move forward with the 52-story condominium. As part of the project, SimDag promised to dedicate a 450-foot strip of land along the Hillsborough River for Riverwalk.

Even if obtaining the Trump Tower property is a long shot, Hoffman said he's excited by the possibility.

Right now, he said, there are few opportunities to add green space along the Riverwalk route, which is planned to stretch 2.4 miles along the east side of the Hillsborough River from the Channel District to Tampa Heights.

Rather than purchase the entire SimDag parcel, the city might consider buying a portion, Hoffman said.

"It's got to be enough to be worth your while, but my position would be that any green space you can get in there would be good," he said.

Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Linda Carlo said her department is exploring the possibility of getting a grant from Florida Communities Trust, which helps cities buy urban land for conservation and recreation. Those grants still would require the city to match part of the funding.

The Florida Community Trust program partially funded three other Riverwalk parks: MacDill, Fort Brooke and USF parks. Each project received grants that required the city to match 50 percent of the costs.

The maximum amount of funding the program might provide is $6.6 million.

The Riverwalk project is expected to cost about $40 million. About $16 million of that will come from public sources, and $24 million will come from private donations.

To date, five of Riverwalk's 21 segments have been completed, making up about six-tenths of a mile. It is set to be completed by October 2010.

Hoffman said he understands that because of the city's budget cuts, buying the Trump land doesn't seem like the top priority. However, if the opportunity arises and the city doesn't act, he said, similar prospects may not become available again for years.

"It's important to have a long-range view and philosophy with this," he said. "If you look at what's on the waterfront now, it changes all the time. You rarely get a chance to change it."

Reporter Lindsay Wilkes-Edrington can be reached at (813) 259-7621 or [email protected] tampatrib.com.

http://www.tbo.com/news/metro/MGB7LN34F3F.html
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Old June 27th, 2007, 04:27 PM   #69
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^

This is exactly what I have been expecting. The city most likely will have to build that segment on their own since the Trump Tower is dead. I'm sure this does NOT please Iorio and other riverwalk supporters.
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Old June 28th, 2007, 02:36 AM   #70
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the city cannot afford that property and simdag is in the hole already they are not going to give the city any deals on it.
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Old June 28th, 2007, 04:22 PM   #71
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the city cannot afford that property and simdag is in the hole already they are not going to give the city any deals on it.
That is the problem...especially with property tax reform draining every municipality in the state of funds, forcing them to make serious cutbacks. Iorio said that she will be giving out tons of pink slips to city employees today cause of the budget cuts.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 04:52 PM   #72
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Raining On The Riverwalk

By ELLEN GEDALIUS The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jul 13, 2007


Work continues on the Riverwalk portion at Platt Street in Tampa. While other mayors have failed to complete the project, which dates to the mid-1970s, Pam Iorio is determined to finish it.
JAY NOLAN / Tribune

Mayor Pam Iorio: Make Tampa A City Of Possibilities
Riverwalk Dream To Finally Step Out

Be Prepared To Open Your Wallets For Riverwalk
to skate, for tourists to find a neat restaurant.

That is Mayor Pam Iorio's vision of the Riverwalk, a project she embraces as an economic engine that could help transform Tampa's drab downtown into a destination point.

But lately, as the city announces layoffs and service cuts, the Riverwalk has become a lightning rod for criticism. People wanting potholes filled, laid off workers and government watchdogs question why the city is spending money on a project they perceive as a luxury, especially as they open their wallets wider to pay property taxes and insurance bills.

"Financially, there are a lot more things the city can use than that," said south Tampa resident Patty Flanagan. "That money can go to other things that can benefit the city of Tampa as a whole, not just a select group that lives near the Riverwalk and the bums at night."

That's a sentiment Councilman Charlie Miranda said he hears from his West Tampa constituents, and one shared by homeowners in east Tampa who speak with activist and former council member Frank Reddick.

"People are concerned about property taxes and insurance. In my neighborhood, it's not a priority," Reddick said.

Iorio says she hears a different message. The public wants the Riverwalk, she says, so much so that they wish it were already complete. She says the excitement is palpable, and uses this as an example: After she gave a speech recently, someone, without solicitation, handed her a check for $300.

"I can tell you I have received so much positive [feedback] about the Riverwalk," Iorio said. "I have heard complaints about every major project that is funded, but I really received very few complaints about the Riverwalk."

Piecemeal Plan
In government circles, there's a joke: What do former mayors Bill Poe, Bob Martinez, Sandy Freedman and Dick Greco, as well as Iorio, have in common?

They all tried to build the Riverwalk.

The effort started in the mid-1970s when wooden planks were used to build a walkway across the river from Plant Park. The planks eventually were removed.

In the 1980s and 1990s, mayors started assembling land for the Riverwalk. When Iorio was elected in 2003, she made the Riverwalk a priority, chose Lee Hoffman to be her point man, and hired a consultant to design a master plan. She hopes by 2010 to connect the Channel District and Tampa Heights with 2.2 miles of green parks and waterfront walkways.

A bond could have been floated to pay for the project in full, leaving taxpayers to pay off the note. But Iorio chose to build it piecemeal, as money is available. That way, she says, taxpayers won't be on the hook for the project for years to come.

In recent years the city has built a couple of Riverwalk segments, including USF Park and MacDill Park, both along the southern edge of Ashley Drive. This year, work began on the Platt Street bridge segment at a cost of $2.6 million.

Funding Formula
There's a misconception that property tax dollars are funding the Riverwalk. In actuality, no property tax money is being used. But that doesn't mean public tax money is being spared.

The city set a goal of raising $40 million, the estimated cost to complete the Riverwalk.

About $24 million of that total is to come from private donations, not tax dollars. So far, about $7.6 million in private donations have been pledged, including about $600,000 already collected. A significant portion - about $5million to $6 million - of the private sector contributions will be from private developers building along the Hillsborough River.

Public money will be used to finance the remaining $16 million, most of it coming from gas taxes. To date, about $7.5million in public money has been put toward the project, including $2 million from Gov. Charlie Crist this year.

In Hillsborough County, motorists spend about 48.5 cents per gallon on gas taxes, generating more than $11 million for the city. That money generally goes to street lighting, traffic engineering and other transportation-related projects.

In all, Iorio says, the city plans to spend about $5.6 million in gas tax money on the Riverwalk.

"For a relatively small amount of money, that's a huge return," Iorio said.

'Are You Crazy?'
But to some taxpayers, the source of the money doesn't make a difference.

Lee Campbell, who lives near Carrollwood and works downtown, is vocal about her distaste for the project.

"I don't think with the things facing the city's economy, it should be a priority," she said. "It may be nice, but it's not an imperative."

Brian Thompson, a city surveyor for four years, mentioned Riverwalk last month after learning he'd been laid off. "I feel like priorities are not in order," he said this week. "It's nice for the city to move forward, but if you have a city full of jobless and homeless, what's the point?"

Not a week goes by that Miranda doesn't hear from his West Tampa constituents about the Riverwalk. The message: "Are you crazy building a Riverwalk? I have no drainage. I have potholes."

Reddick, who is active in east Tampa neighborhood groups, fields similar complaints.

"They've shown no interest in east Tampa," Reddick said. "Most residents would like to see improved street lighting, improved sidewalks."

Supporters: Now Is The Time
Beth Leytham, the marketing coordinator for Friends of the Riverwalk, has heard the talk.

"It's a project right now that seems to be an extra," she said. "It's hard for folks to understand why it's still important to wisely invest in our future."

But she is confident the timing is right, and that the Riverwalk will pay off big in the long run.

The economic benefits will be great, with restaurants and small retail shops along the riverfront. And residents and tourists alike will be able to enjoy the Riverwalk's low-cost entertainment by renting boat slips, going for walks or enjoying open-air concerts.

Sherry Genovar-Simons, an activist in southeast Seminole Heights, also supports the project.

"You bring a lot of people into town for events," she said. "If you do not have things for them to do when they come, it makes it less attractive."

Bringing the public's attention to the river is good for the city, said Rich Brown, an environmentalist on the board of the Friends of the River.

"I definitely would think the idea of using our natural resources as a focal point of building our city's identity is a great idea," Brown said. "It's a good use of tax dollars."

But he knows not everyone is so supportive.

"Just the luck of the draw, it's happening as the state of Florida is readjusting itself after a couple of decades of living large," Brown said. "It's one of the few things that acts as a lightning rod. It used to be the art museum, and now it's being replaced by the Riverwalk.

"For most people, the river just isn't part of their lives. Why waste money downtown?"

Hoffman, the city's Riverwalk manager, occasionally gives boat tours along the Riverwalk's future path. He said his passengers often board the boat with skepticism.

"When it's this fuzzy plan - Riverwalk - it doesn't mean anything. It's putting a sidewalk in downtown," he said.

"But once you tell them the big plan, they get excited about it."

Big-Ticket Projects
Of course, the Riverwalk isn't the first and won't be the last big-ticket government project that draws a reaction from weary taxpayers.

Former Councilman Bob Buckhorn, now a political analyst, reflected on the opposition decades ago to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. That was followed by the Florida Aquarium and the new football stadium.

Now it's the Riverwalk.

"Big projects like the Riverwalk are looked upon as unnecessary, are easy targets," Buckhorn said.

"As a result of that, it really takes politicians with guts to go out there and put the muscle behind the rhetoric, and I'm not sure that's being done."

Buckhorn wonders if the city should sell bonds to finance the project and build it all at once, rather than step-by-step.

"You've got to excite people," Buckhorn said, "and I'm not sure they've done that. Part of it is a communication problem, part of it is, it's not a priority."

GASSING UP
The $40 million Riverwalk project is being funded in large part by private donations. On the public side, no property taxes are being used. Instead, several million dollars of gas tax money will help pay for the 2.2-mile walkway. Gas taxes can be spent on transportation-related projects that include:
•Public transportation operations and maintenance

•Street drainage

•Street lighting

•Traffic signs, traffic engineering, signals and pavement markings

•Bridge maintenance and operation

•Debt service on transportation capital projects, including constructing roads and sidewalks

GASSING UP
The $40 million Riverwalk project is being funded in large part by private donations. On the public side, no property taxes are being used. Instead, several million dollars of gas tax money will help pay for the 2.2-mile walkway. Gas taxes can be spent on transportation-related projects that include:
Reporter Ellen Gedalius can be reached at (813) 259-7679 or [email protected].

http://www.tbo.com/news/nationworld/MGB6LKL324F.html
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Old July 13th, 2007, 05:09 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by wslupecki View Post
That is the problem...especially with property tax reform draining every municipality in the state of funds, forcing them to make serious cutbacks. Iorio said that she will be giving out tons of pink slips to city employees today cause of the budget cuts.
Indeed, this has got to be the most irresponsible state legislature that this state has had in at least a generation... They are unquestionably placing short term political gain ahead of this state's economic future. The fact that they are using the inequity of the SOH issue to game the property tax system even more is unconscionable.


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But lately, as the city announces layoffs and service cuts, the Riverwalk has become a lightning rod for criticism. People wanting potholes filled, laid off workers and government watchdogs question why the city is spending money on a project they perceive as a luxury, especially as they open their wallets wider to pay property taxes and insurance bills.
There is a word for this reasoning... it's called 'myopia'...
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Old July 13th, 2007, 05:16 PM   #74
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Well, as long as people keep electing these Rhonda Storms Republicans...this is what you'll get.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 07:25 PM   #75
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Lee Campbell, who lives near Carrollwood and works downtown, is vocal about her distaste for the project.
It's good to know that people who don't live in the city have an opinion on the Riverwalk that they will get to use for free.

If the Riverwalk does get finished it will bring in way more jobs than could be "saved" in the short term. We'll be down one surveyor but be able to get more conventions, sporting events, movies, public art displays, hotels, restaurants, etc.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 08:13 PM   #76
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I believe this is one of the most "responsible" acts (cutting property taxes) from a state legislature in a long time. We spend an ungodly amount of money in the local, state, and federal governments. It has gotten to the point that we spend so much, much of it is not monitored and frankly goes to waste. I say continue cutting taxes. With more money in people's pockets, I believe you will see an increase from private donors to projects such as the Riverwalk and the Art Museum, and people from "Carrollwood" will stop bitching about where their tax money is going.

Oh, by the way, I teach high school here in Tampa, so I am not a rich American trying to get out of paying my taxes.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 08:24 PM   #77
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People in Carrollwood - of whom I know a lot - don't pay for city projects. They are in the county and many of them support the downtown development.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 09:05 PM   #78
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Well, as long as people keep electing these Rhonda Storms Republicans...this is what you'll get.
Don't even mention that name! That witch did practically nothing for Hillsborough Co. when she was a commissioner. At least nothing that seemed very satisfying to me. Not to mention she started countless stupid arguments with the good politicians like Kathy Castor. And what has Storms done in the Senate so far that has been good? Please name some if you can.
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Old July 14th, 2007, 01:07 AM   #79
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People in Carrollwood - of whom I know a lot - don't pay for city projects. They are in the county and many of them support the downtown development.
I'm a former Carrollwooder, and almost all of my old friends from there also know and support a downtown revitalization.

Also, something that needs to be remembered about this particular project, though, is that people form outside the city likely won't make the trip downtown just to walk the riverwalk. They will likely go for something they will pay for while they are down there, thus in a way they are paying for it.

Especially if they gas up while in the city limits in this case, since gas tax is a major source of funding.
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Old July 14th, 2007, 04:42 AM   #80
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Buying Trump/Simdag

Im telling you now if the city buys trumps(simdags )property for a park and myself and 230 other employees of the city were laid off IO really have a serious problem with that!!!!
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