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Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Northeast News

Temple Terrace leaders not keen on plans for homeless benefit

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TEMPLE TERRACE - Every year, hundreds of residents gather in October to support the Temple Terrace Reads literacy fair and the city's fire department open house in the downtown area.

Now, a South Florida nonprofit with no connection to Temple Terrace wants to piggyback on the community events.

Americas Life Line Foundation, a charitable organization in Miami, hopes to hold a festival to benefit the homeless on the site of the downtown redevelopment project on Oct. 12, the same day as the family literacy festival and fire department open house.

The foundation's event would be aimed at businesses and individuals interested in donating money to help the homeless, said Paul Woods, a Miami attorney who represents Americas Life Line Foundation. It would feature food trucks, a business expo, a kids zone, entertainment and a green zone with information booths about electric cars.

The foundation also is eyeing the 29-acre town center site as an ideal spot to hold similar events once-a-month to help homeless veterans, children and the disabled.

"I believe it will promote not only the city but local businesses," Woods said, adding he hope it would become a model for other cities.

Members of Vlass Temple Terrace, the development group that owns the property, has given the foundation permission to use the land, Woods said.

So far, it is not earning a wringing endorsement from city leaders or at least one member of the Temple Terrace Reads committee.

Last week the Temple Terrace City Council rejected a request to endorse the foundation's plans.

City Councilman Grant Rimbey described the request as bizarre. He asked why the foundation targeted Temple Terrace instead of Tampa, which has a much larger homeless population.

"I don't think of this as a revitalization effort," Rimbey said.

"It's to benefit the homeless but not necessarily for the homeless," Woods said in response.

Councilwoman Alison Fernandez commended Woods on the foundation's efforts but added that she had no knowledge of its history, so she couldn't endorse its plans.

She cited Temple Terrace Reads and the fire department open house as well established events with longtime city support.

Councilmen David Pogorilich and Eddie Vance said they were concerned about opening a floodgate on similar requests.

Councilman Bob Boss said he didn't think the foundation's plan would benefit the city's image.

Cyndi Mohler, chairwoman of the city's school support committee and a member of the Temple Terrace Reads committee, also voiced her opposition to the foundation's plans.

Temple Terrace Reads will celebrate its eighth anniversary on the grounds of Temple Terrace Elementary School in October. It is a successful program with tremendous support from the city, the Hillsborough County School District and the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce, she said.

"It's a literacy event, and that's what we want to keep it," Mohler said. "We don't doubt why someone would want to piggyback on the event. It's very successful."

To Mohler, the literary festival and homeless benefit "don't mesh," she said.

kknight@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7413

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