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Saturday, Sep 20, 2014
Columnists

Otto: Newest transportation idea could be a ferry tale

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I like Ed Turanchik. Almost forever the Tampa lawyer and former county commissioner has been the dream-maker for this town.

And as bold and unlikely as some of his ideas have been, they have largely been rooted in substance and good for all of us if he could pull any one of them off.

He picked up the Ed “Choo-Choo’’ Turanchik moniker for his long struggle to get the county and the region off its collective duff and get serious about mass transportation.

He also had the dream to bring the Summer Olympics to Florida. Tampa would have been transformed with Olympic housing and athletic facilities and a new vision.

He has continued, working on affordable housing, fast trains and a comprehensive transportation system.

Now he’s back, this time at the head of a group that wants to establish a ferry system offering high-speed water transportation from southern Hillsborough County to Pinellas and back to downtown Tampa.

Initially, he wants to use it to get workers from south Hillsborough to MacDill Air Force Base.

It is only later they would expand with ferries to everywhere from Tropicana Field to the new Lens pier. It would not be a solution to our growing gridlock, but it would help.

Unfortunately, Turanchik and his backers are upfront when saying they are going to need a lot of capital to get this thing off the ground (and into the water) with little things such as, oh, ferry boats and docks and infrastructure that will run north of $20 million.

I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Went to a really nifty wedding last week at the Marriot downtown. It was one of those outdoor affairs facing the channel at sunset. Tampa lawyer David Mechanik was the groom, marrying the better looking and more romantically named Maricela Medrano de Luna, complete with marimba band.

If I was David I would have gone with “David de Luna.”

The only questionable thing was the two were married by the certainly-not-reverend Dick Greco, who made a pretty good mayor more than once. He claimed afterward this was his eighth marriage ceremony and that all of the marriages are still going strong.

There has been a substantial amount of mail over the proposed building of that massive residential tower between the John F. Germany Public Library and the river. Much of it is like the following: “The city should be wary of walling off our river with ‘towers’ that are a “good deal.’ I agree something needs to be done about the race tracks Cass and Tyler streets have become. In the 21 years I was a volunteer at the Performing Arts (Straz) Center, I was nearly run down several times.” — Karen Morrow

Finally, I will be co-hosting with Party Marti Ryan and “Pinetop” Peterson the 17th annual “Scratch My Back” concert at the SkipperDome behind Skipper’s restaurant Sunday evening.

It’s a benefit for the Hillsborough Animal Shelter support group and also a reminder to not leave your animals in a locked-up car in the summer.

The Lint Rollers and the Quivering Rhythm Hounds will be on stage beginning about 5 p.m.

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