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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
Politics

Tampa police station among projects on mayor's list

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 11:42 PM
TAMPA -

The Tampa Police Department could get a new headquarters building in the next few years if Mayor Bob Buckhorn presses ahead with plans outlined in his new 2013 budget.

The budget comes with the five years of proposed construction projects, a list that includes $44 million in 2015 to renovate and possibly reconstruct the city's existing police office at Franklin and Madison streets.

Until then, Buckhorn has set aside $1 million next year and in 2014 to replace the building's windows — its signature blue metal paneling — in hopes of improving day-to-day life inside the building.

The police department also will get a new $2.1 million outdoor gun range next year near East Clark and North 34th streets near Palmetto Beach.

Beyond police spending, Buckhorn plans to boost spending on buildings, roads and utilities in the coming year, according to the 2013 budget.

The $104.8 million set aside for infrastructure projects is nearly a third more than the current budget.

But unlike previous years, it's made up entirely of cash on hand — taxes levied on utilities and gasoline, transportation impact fees and the Community Investment Tax.

The city won't borrow to fund any of the work planned in 2013.

Like the short-term TPD spending, much of the work is aimed at maintaining or upgrading the city's existing public facilities.

About a third of the spending — $32.6 million — will go to behind-the-scenes improvements at the city's water and sewer plants. Both divisions are self-supporting and will be paying for their upgrades with income from customers.

Of the rest, $15 million is aimed at neighborhoods, about a quarter more than this year. Of that, $3.5 million will go toward renovating city pools, some of which have been closed because of budget cuts.

Buckhorn said the budget is no guarantee all four pools will reopen.

"We have to make business decisions when it comes to our facilities," he told council members. Pools like Cuscaden, which had low turnout, may not be worth the investment, he said.

Nevertheless, City Councilman Harry Cohen, who represents South Tampa, welcomed the attention: "I'm gratified that he continues to make investing in the neighborhoods a priority."

Downtown Tampa, which has absorbed millions in recent years, will continue to draw public dollars in 2013.

Buckhorn's plan calls for extending the Zack Street arts promenade from Florida Avenue to Marion Street, widening the sidewalk and adding trees and art. It also calls for modernizing the Tampa Theatre's electric system and lighting.

Theater Manager John Bell said the $318,000 in work is necessary to bring the building up to current standards for concerts.

"Anything we can do to make it easier and more efficient for crews to come in and set up will pay off," Bell said.

The improvements also will make the 86-year-old building safer.

"It's safe now," Bell said. "But if we don't address this, in several years it might not be. It's time we get out in front of it."

2013 public improvements

$15 million: Finish Tampa Riverwalk

$15 million: Renovate pools, make other neighborhood improvements

$5.18 million: Pave local streets

$4.88 million: Widen Cross Creek Boulevard in New Tampa

$2.5 million: Begin renovation of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park

$2.3 million: Redevelop Perry Harvey Park in East Tampa

$2.1 million: Build outdoor gun range for Tampa Police Department

$1.3 million: Replace malfunctioning controller on Laurel Street drawbridge

$1 million: Dredge South Tampa canals

$1 million: Renovate exterior of Tampa Police Department

$500,000: Renovate Union Station

$400,000: Upgrade East Fowler Avenue and North 50th Street near USF Sundome, Museum of Science and Industry

$318,000: Modernize Tampa Theatre electrical system


kwiatrowski@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7871 Twitter: kevinw_trib

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