NEW TAMPA — As representative of Tampa’s most populated city council district, Councilwoman Lisa Montelione says she hardly ever gets a night off.
The District 7 council member spends most weeknights at public forums and neighborhood events sprinkled throughout the sprawling district of 92,000 people, extending from Forest Hills north to New Tampa.
Montelione now is scheduling once-a-month office hours at well-known locations in her sprawling district to increase her access to constituents. She hopes the convenience of the neighborhood visits will encourage more people to speak with her about city matters.
The first such event, held this week at the New Tampa Regional Library on Cross Creek Boulevard, drew three people: community activists Cyril Spiro and David Burman of Cory Lake Isles, and Toby Thomson of Arbor Greene.
Montelione was not disheartened by the low turnout; she offered a positive perspective.
“Well, it is three more people than I usually see downtown,” the councilwoman said, laughing. “It’s hard for people to come downtown.”
Montelione’s hour-long visit to the New Tampa library included a question-and-answer segment. Spiro, Burman and Thomson peppered Montelione about issues ranging from road expansion plans scheduled for Bruce B. Downs and Cross Creek boulevards to much-needed traffic safety improvements and a planned fire station on County Line Road.
Tony LaColla, a senior planner with the Hillsborough County Planning Commission, also made a presentation about Imagine 2040, a visionary blueprint shepherded by the planning commission to update the county’s 2040 long-range transportation plan and comprehensive plans for Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City and Hillsborough County.
To help with the process, planning commissioners are asking residents to participate in an online interactive survey at Imagine2040.org.
Montelione, a first-term council member, wants her constituents to feel empowered and to know she is attuned to their concerns, she said.
“It’s going to meetings, going to home associations to make that face-to-face contact,” she said.