Regarding "End transportation planning gridlock" (Our Views, July 28): Your editorial is either misleading or your editors are new to Hillsborough County.
The powers that be are trying to start big and expect locals to fall in place. Before you think rail, local access by bus is needed. About six years ago, volunteer citizens, working with county employees, drew up a comprehensive plan to create bus transportation in the eastern part of Hillsborough. The goal was to gradually extend the plan to other parts of the county. What happened to these maps and sketches? This is the way to create effective, efficient mass transit, from the neighborhoods to Tampa. Bus stops were even identified in these plans, so driving would be minimal.
Eventually, adults going to work could stay in town late and still get a bus home. Students could use public transportation to the high schools and colleges anywhere in the county, and seniors would be able to attend afternoon ballgames, matinees at the Straz or go to a museum. In time, one could even get to the airport or go to surrounding counties.
Take a look at the county map. So many streets are dead ends. Tampa has a streetcar that goes only one place. The county has waterways that could accommodate water taxis. The possibilities are endless. Connect what we have, and make it more flexible. Then, when you start asking for more taxes, make sure it is used for the project you originally advocated.
Our elected officials need to adopt a sense of honesty shared by business leaders. Don't keep inventing the wheel and then throwing the results away because a new regime is in place.
Look to water
Regarding "Execs driving county to pursue mass transit system" by Mike Salinero: (July 24): I used to visit Sydney and Seattle several times a year. I was always impressed with their mass transit systems.
Not their light-rail systems - their water-based mass transit systems.
Seattle has large, 100-plus passenger vessels to cross bays and major waters. Sydney has small, 20-plus passenger shallow-draft craft that go many miles upriver, ending at locations on what we would call a creek. Their boats are always full.
The Tampa Bay area, like Sydney and Seattle, has an ideal environment for a water-based mass transit system.
Larger vessels could connect South Shore, MacDill, St. Petersburg, West Shore, Courtney Campbell, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and Tampa.
Smaller shallow-draft vessels could extend Tampa's coverage up the Hillsborough River. I used to allow my rental pontoon boats to go all the way to Lowry Park Zoo. With a little engineering, this route might include Temple Terrace and New Tampa. Tampa's smaller shallow-draft vessels could also offer coverage to Riverview and Brandon. St. Petersburg coverage would be even greater with all its bays and waterways.
An all-encompassing system similar to Sydney's or Seattle's could be implemented at perhaps little or no cost to taxpayers.
R. L. Witsil
Time for Bro Bowl to go
In the 1970s, Tampa locals built a snake run into a bowl in Perry Harvey Sr. Park in downtown Tampa on top of what was once the budding nightlife scene started by freed slaves. What started as a DIY project for the Tampa skate scene soon blossomed into a worldwide-known icon of DIY skateboarding and of "The Golden Era."
Recently, there have been some murmurs of skaters trying to establish their Bro Bowl as a historic landmark, while Tampa's African-American community claims that the land the Bro Bowl sits on is their history (actual sign during a recent picketing event: "Don't Skate on My History!") Who cares whose history it is? It's time to inject some new life into that old dusty wasteland.
Don't get me wrong; the Bro Bowl is legendary. It was part of the Tampa Am level on Tony Hawk's Underground. I remember trying to "Yeah, Right!" down the entire snake run for hours, literally screaming at the TV how badly I wished my parents would drive me up to Tampa so I could skate on this skate masterpiece. Then one day I moved to Tampa, skated the Bro Bowl, and regretted ever having wished to do so. The bowl is a poorly designed, wobbly mess. I had a nearly broken wrist to show for it, too.
Brian Schaefer, owner of the Skatepark of Tampa, and Orlando skatepark design gods Team Pain proposed a new skatepark design complete with a larger snake run, street plaza, granite ledges, lighting and a continuation of the "no fees, no rules, no pads" philosophy, in addition to a permanent installation showcasing the original Bro Bowl and its long history. Rather than leave it an untouched and barely skated "historical landmark," the title it was just awarded last Thursday, the city of Tampa should demolish the old bowl to make way for this new, state-of-the-art design.
The bowl downtown is the only free and safe spot for kids to skate. If you want to learn to skateboard, but don't want to spend $10 for a day session at a park, your only option is to take it to the streets, where the ol' boys in blue may not be so understanding of your passion.
The old bowl is so old, difficult to skate and unforgiving when you take a spill that it actually discourages kids from going to skate and learning how to ride, going against the ideals skateboarding was founded upon. A new park would encourage kids to learn and keep our existing skaters in a safe (and admittedly, incredible) place to skate for free, rather than pushing them onto the streets or off a board completely.
TampaThe need to move
Why can't the Bro Bowl be part of a revitalized Perry Harvey Sr. Park? Why can't the park tell us the story of The Scrub, highlight Tampa's black movers and shakers, depict those wonderful clubs on Central that brought the great entertainers like Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald and include the bowl? Skateboarders are all races! This would be a great way to teach our shared history.
Oh yeah - go ahead a build another skate park somewhere, too. Many Americans are obese. We need to get outside and move.