USF STUDENTS PRESENT RESEARCH PROJECT ON EAST TAMPA-Andrew Stelzer04/27/06
For the past 4 months, students at the University of South Florida engaged in a cooperative research project with residents of East Tampa. Revitalizing the East Tampa neighborhood, and its economy was of mayor Pam Iorio's stated goals when she took office, and she was one of the opening speakers at St Johns progressive Baptist church in east Tampa, where the students presented the results of their work. WMNFâ€™s Andrew Stelzer was there, and filed this report
ACT-Iorio â€œI talk about my goals..east Tampa. people donâ€™t know where it is..in bringing USF to east â€¦its everybodyâ€™s responsibilityâ€¦â€?
Iorio said that because of Americans negative savings rate, rising housing and home insurance prices, and the unattainable price of health care, better well off Tampa residents need to help their fellow neighbors, and partnerships throughout the city, especially in East Tampa need to happen. She said she told the same thing to the chamber of commerce only an hour earlier.
ACT-Iorio â€œI donâ€™t think there should be any struggling schools in Tampa, and they had been designated by the state and we started a program with the city, and I said to the chamber, go knock on the door, give the principal 500 bucks, bookstore,
Several groups of students spent the semester working at least 4 hours a week working or doing research in East Tampa. Jonathan Pavon helped make sure the computers in East Tampa elementary schools were working and networked.
ACT-Pavon â€œEach schools has large networks in eth schools but no one to take care of themâ€¦â€?
Anthony Mejia said that through the experience he also realized he was a role model, his felloe engineering student Charles Gossage agreed.
ACT â€œThereâ€™s 1 technician for all the schools, he only could stop by once a week, so they have to wait a whole week, or the technician stopped by, it made us feel good, even though..the work we did meant so much and they thanked usâ€¦..and kids are falling through the cracks, young people need to see kids going to college, and not falling through loopholes, this also can bridge the gap between the university and community..â€?
Another group of students from Middleton high school conducted oral history interviews with long time east Tampa residents. Several groups studied changes in the historically African American neighborhood between Hillsborough Avenue and I-4, west on I-275. Jamae Morris spoke about the impact of the pending demolition of central park village, and relocation of the housing developments residents. She said the impact on schoolchildren who want to attend after school programs is just one of many factors that will be effected..â€?
ACT â€œMost of the central park village were assigned to schools 3-7 miles away, few of the students attended that schoolsâ€¦booker t, cant go to afterschool..and transportation is a problem..â€™
Morris also said there should be a consideration of creating a museum commemorating central park village. Watson Ducatel was one of several students who studied the history of Central Avenue, which was a thriving African American business district before I-275 was build. In particular, Ducatel spoke about the churches still in the area.
ACT â€œSome observations were made that most church attendees are coming from outside, they are all doing the same projects and the churches use internal workers instead of other community assets..â€?
Kimberly Landon spent her semester volunteering at Edison elementary school.
ACT â€?east Tampa needs a second high school..there are far too many students being bussed outâ€¦one of the students made a comment that the largest percentage of people are 0-18, they will be in high school, we have to have room for them, they wont get through college..also media push..everytime I see something on TV, its always negative, we need to get the media involved, we need them to see what the revitalization project isâ€¦â€?
Long time east Tampa resident and Evangeline Best, who works with the East Tampa Neighborhood Organization Works, served as the community representative for the entire semester, connecting students with other community members and places to volunteer.
ACT-best â€œYou know and I know the media gives us a bad wrap. you will see east Tampa through my eyes, and its nothing but beautiful, put it in perspective, look at it through our eyesâ€¦you will appreciate and not evaluate..we are the experts too..â€?
Best said she pushed the University to make sure that the presentation of the research project take place in East Tampa not at the university. She, as well as Sam Kinsey, chairman of the east Tampa community revitalization partnership, apologized for not bringing more people to hear the results, but said next time they will, as they were impressed with the results of the research. WMNF asked Mayor Iorio about the progress in East Tampa since she took office 3 years ago.
ACT-Iorio â€œOur real challenge is how to acquire large parcels of land, businesses want 100,000 feet, they cant find the land, another thing is 40th street bridge, top priority, when you consider its been 3 years, weâ€™ve done a lot..â€?
After the presentations, WMNF spoke to USF professor Susan Greenbaum about the future of the USF collaboration with East Tampa.
ACT-Greenbaum â€œâ€¦its been good needs to be sustainable..IS THERE SUPPORT?â€¦yes but resources is another..it must be institutionalized..â€?
To learn more about the USF collaboration with the East Tampa Community Revitalization project, log onto http://usfcollab.fmhi.usf.edu/neighborhoodsdetail.cfm?areaID=1
Fro WMNF news, Iâ€™m Andrew Stelzer