Tampa City Council rejects eliminating street signs in Ybor

01/15/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The Tampa City Council, working as the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, rejected a proposal today to remove street signs that misspell the Spanish spelling of the word ‘seventh’ on 7th avenue in Ybor City.

The difference comes down to one letter – the exclusion of the letter p from the word “Septima’. Currently signs spell the word “Setima.”

The motion to remove the street signs - which would cost between $1,300 and $3,000 - was proposed by Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena.

The issue has been enmeshed in controversy. Last fall, the Ybor City Development Corporation (YCDC) voted 12-5 to maintain the spelling.

But Fran Costintino, president of the East Ybor Neighborhood Association, wanted the signs removed. She did acknowledge that old time members of Ybor disagree on what to do.

But Councilman Charlie Miranda grew up in Ybor City. He leaned against the Council taking any action, saying that controversy has always been a rich part of the history of Ybor, and there was no reason to change the status quo.

Councilwoman Mary Mulhern worried that maintaining the colloquial Spanish word might create a negative image of Tampa.

After an attorney for the City Council said that as the CRA the board did not have the authority to change street names, Councilwoman Saul-Sena changed her motion and instead revised it to being a recommendation to Mayor Pam Iorio to remove the signs.

The president of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, Tom Keating, said the story of how Seventh Avenue became spelled without the P is now part of Ybor lore, and he did not want the city to change anything.

That seemed to light a fire under Councilwoman Saul-Sena. But her sentiment was not shared by the majority on the Council, and only Mary Mulhern joined Saul-Sena in voting to remove the signs. Mulhern said she would write a note to language maven William Safire of the New York Times Sunday magazine about the controversy in hopes that he might write about it and give a boost for Ybor tourism.

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