Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council meets
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04/14/08 Seán Kinane
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The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council met today in Pinellas Park to discuss regional transit and what future development might look like in the Tampa Bay Area.

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s mission is to provide “a forum to foster communication, coordination and collaboration in identifying and addressing issues and needs regionally” among the 43 jurisdictions in Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Deborah Kynes is a Dunedin City Commissioner and the chair of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Kynes told WMNF why a regional transit system is so important for the Tampa Bay Area.

The directors of transit for the counties of Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee led a panel discussion on mass transportation with the Regional Planning Council, which includes Bob Clifford from the Florida Department of Transportation. Kynes said that with the formation of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) these types of collaborations are needed for truly regional transit solutions.

Each county’s transit director said in order for public transportation to be more effective and used by more people, citizens and government officials need to direct more money toward transit. The Regional Planning Council received an update on a project initiated last year called One Bay. It seeks input from around the seven-county region about how future growth will occur.

Stuart Rogel is president and CEO of Tampa Bay Partnership, the organization that created One Bay, and will host a conference next month unveiling future growth scenarios.

The presentation was scheduled to be given by Amy Maguire, but she resigned as One Bay’s director earlier this month because of her ties to south Hillsborough landowners planning a large-scale development and her employment by a powerful lobbying firm.

Since Maguire’s resignation, some media reports have emphasized the business ties of the Tampa Bay Partnership, but Rogel stressed that One Bay is made up of five regional organizations.

The Agency on Bay Management is the natural resources committee of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. At their meeting on March 13, the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team presented information about the proposed new waterfront baseball stadium. But the Agency on Bay Management says it does not feel the Rays have done an analysis of the environmental impacts of the proposal. It told this to the St. Petersburg City Council in a March 25 letter.

The letter said the St. Petersburg City Council should not place the issue as a referendum on November’s ballot before these impacts have been analyzed. According to the letter, the studies could take “weeks or months.” Alternatives to the waterfront site need to be considered, according to Suzanne Cooper, a principal planner with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

Cooper said the Agency on Bay Management has “not received a response from the Rays or any [government] official” to their letter, which lists 28 environmental concerns that need to be addressed. These include habitat quality, seagrasses, and water quality, Cooper said.

The next Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council meeting will be on May 12 at 10 a.m. in their Pinellas Park headquarters.

Learn more:

Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council

TBARTA

Tampa Bay Partnership

One Bay

Rays’ stadium info from City of St. Petersburg

Preserve Our Wallets and Waterfront (POWW)

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