Europe 1945 – The Marshall Plan
Sad to say, much of downtown Tampa looks like Berlin in 1945 after the Red Army had shelled it with heavy artillery, tank guns, heavy mortars, machine guns, constant aircraft bombing, and the Soviet invasion under the command of General Zhukhov. Besides Berlin, the rest Europe was a junkyard and burned-out disaster. General George C. Marshall, Jr. came up with the idea of loaning the crumbling remnants of Europe the money to begin rebuilding itself, most likely to slow down or stop the remaining civilian survivors of WW-2 from trying to emigrate to the USA.
Much vacant property with dirt, weeds, and/or broken concrete slabs greet visitors and out-of-town event attendees at the Ice Palace or Downtown Tampa conventions. It would seem we could do better, especially considering the massive amount of money collected in property and sales tax by the State and County governments. Where does all this money go? We have noted in previous articles that a few years ago Hillsborough County Government had somewhere around $500,000,000 or more in leftover Capital Project funds [yes, 500 MILLION dollars] which it just made disappear, thanks to the Financial Expert, Eric Johnson and, of course, Mike Merrill, now County Administrator. It’s not like the County Government is so broke they can’t pay attention, is it? Too many buddies,,,,,,………
Clearwater, Lakeland, and St. Petersburg
These cities, especially St. Petersburg, have worked aggressively to clean up and either restore or rebuild their downtown areas. Compare this with the old Tampa Woolworth block which has been vacant for nearly 25 years. Or look at the North Franklin Street area……an abandoned mess. Clearwater has been working on its downtown for years, So has St. Pete. St. Pete’s South Side has a way to go, but the Mound Park area has the hospital now, and the area just south of 6th Avenue S. has been utterly transformed by USF into a new “university city,” which replaced vacant lots, abandoned homes, crumbling old businesses, machine shops [anyone remember Die Polder Electric and Machine Shop ?] and other abandoned buildings [like Aunt Hatties].
So What’s Tampa’s Problem ?
Tampa has several hereditary problems, such as:
a) Crime, especially in Ybor City, which isn’t safe after 10 pm. Too many bars which cater to drunken teenagers are driving out the restaurants and small businesses which cater to regular people. Many shop fronts are vacant. Not a good situation. Police Chief Castor may need some help with this one. How about a few extra County Sheriff’s Deputies in Ybor to assist after 10 pm?
b) Homeless, all over Downtown at night…….the homeless will always be with us, especially in the face of the economic reality which we have right now, contrary to the large chunks of horse crap flowing out of Washington and the TV. You can’t make the homeless just go away and hide in the woods of Eastern Hillsborough County. We see them every day and give them either water, money, or both. They need a couple of their own free campgrounds outside of the Tampa City Limits.
c) Too many inbred buddies getting their fingers into the money pit of Hillsborough County Government. This causes politicians to get cash envelopes in order to continue the established kickback system and ignore items like infrastructure, water mains, streets, roads, you name it. [We have seen this personally…] For example, just before the 2012 elections, many city streets in East Tampa were paved and/or reconstructed after 50++ years of neglect. These property owners have paid their property taxes for years and years….why did it take a Republican Convention in an election year to get the work done? [Yes, we know this is City of Tampa territory, but the County Government helps the City out financially when there is a great need, unless Eric Johnson has hidden the cash somewhere.]
How to fix it ?
Perhaps the County Commission should be in contact with State Reps Betty Reed and Dana Young (and maybe even Jim “Junkers” Norman would help?] to get the State Legislature to pass a bill allowing a small sales and property “tax free” zone or zones for a 5 year period to attract retail, business, and real estate developers to the abandoned areas of Downtown? At this point, nearly anything would help. Encourage USF to use the vacant land available (and possibly already in possession of the County Government) to continue USF’s Downtown expansion program. Encore Tampa [near the privately-restored Union Station, now owned by the City Parks Dept.] is a good start, but there are no tenants which are visible, and it needs a kick to get it going. Maybe in the 2014 elections, we need to clean up the political mess which has produced this buddy kickback system and made Tampa into a Third World city. Centro Ybor is essentially bankrupt, and has been taken over by the City. Even the Channelside area is going bankrupt now, including the cinemas. Tampa’s Downtown is just plainly and simply a bunch of donkey droppings. Tampa looks like Jakarta or Tashkent…….but then we insult those cities. Sorry………