Tampa City Council wants opinion on HCC/Ybor flap

03/26/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Earlier this month, the Tampa City Council realized that it had no power to control the design of new buildings being constructed by Hillsborough Community College in Ybor City.

That’s after the school decided it didn’t need approval from the government body responsible for preserving the historic fabric of Ybor, the Barrio Latino Commission (BLC); and Mayor Pam Iorio agreed.

But today, City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena brought up the idea of forwarding the question to Attorney General Bill McCollum’s office on whether HCC should need approval from the city. Council Chair Thomas Scott seconded the motion.

The current conflict revolves around the construction of a building on Palm Avenue, literally across the street from the edge of what constitutes the historic district.

Neighborhood activists say its design is out of character with the district, a point emphasized by Councilwoman again today.

But attorney Chip Fletcher said again that they don’t want to ask for an Attorney General opinion, but instead toward working on an interlocal agreement with the city.

Both Saul-Sena and Scott said the city’s Charter delineates that when it comes to land use and zoning issues, the power of doing that lies in the hands of the City Council.

But Councilman Charlie Miranda said that his interpretation of the Attorney General’s ability to make a ruling depended on HCC and the city jointly agreeing to ask for such approval. And he said since that wasn’t the case, the whole issue was essentially a waste of time.

Saul-Sena said there is nothing the city can do at this time to stop the construction of the current Students Service Center. She said it’s all about stopping the next buildings.

The Council then voted to request the City Attorney submit the question to the Attorney General that HCC be required to abide by Barrio Latino Commission regulations.

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Ybor neglect

Ok, now that Centro Ybor has proven to be a bust, Pam is eager to move on to her beloved "riverwalk" project, and let the usual cast of characters/developers/scum trash Ybor. Yes HCC wants to do this, but we all know that once a precedent is on the books, a team of lawyers will act on it, getting a loaf worth of damage from a crumb. What she does not realize is WHY Centro Ybor failed; the local merchants; who depend on Ybor keeping it's feel, got driven out, leaving just the usual retail that people could get in any Mall in any part of the county. The fact is Pam, the very artists you depend on to make your precious Riverwalk a success are the very artists who see Ybor being sold down the river, and who will not risk what little they have if they think Tampa will just let whatever they build get bulldozed down. If you do nto show a respect for the History and culture of this city, Riverwalk will just be another expensive mall, which will NOT attract anyone to downtown. As is, if the Barrio Latino is allowed to be stepped on, all those people who moved to condos in Ybor will wonder why the blazes they spent all that money to live in a "historic district."


Furthermore, HCC should be doing their best to defend Ybor, not wreck it! It's a shame that a place whose job it is to educate seems to be too busy trying to become USF. Keep in mind that building like the Cuban Club and El Pasaje are right by the HCC campus, will they perhaps claim "eminent domain" and tear these treasures down, all in the name of "progress?" I love HCC, and am proud to be an alumnus of the Ybor campus, but it shoudl not pretend that it is some sort of University.