Connecting Tampa

Time waits for no city

By: Adam Fritz, Urban Charette

I recently came across an article written in 200,1in the Jacksonville Business Journal about how Tampa missed out on the 2012 Olympics. Why was it in the Jacksonville paper? Well, some of the Olympic soccer games would have
been played in Jacksonville’s Alltel stadium. But let’s discuss the
bigger issue.

While the article is somewhat dated, the connectivity problems that contributed to the region’s failed Olympic bid remain prevalent. The Tampa Bay area still exists as a disparate region of individual
communities lacking the infrastructure to connect in ways that would
justify each community’s proximity to one another.

I have always admired the vision of the organizer for the Tampa 2012 Olympic bid, Mr. Ed Turanchik, and what he believed the event would have done for the bay area. Imagine a whole region pulling together for a
common goal of hosting the Olympic Games. Imagine how the planning would
bolster our built environment by creating places where people actually
want to linger, how it would physically connect us with valuable transit
infrastructure to channel growth for years to come, and how it would
show the world we are a serious business contender for them to bring
economic exchanges. The region’s marvelous weather may attract visitors
but it will take the opportunity for a superior quality of life to keep
them here. Winning the Olympic bid would have given the region a
common goal to work toward. Imagine what a better situation our area
would be in, as we would have the necessary infrastructure finishing,
the amenities coming online, and an invaluable amount of continuous
advertisement for our city on national television for a year and a half.

What has consistently held the TampaBay back? What is the one thing we receive poor marks for every time we are judged in the world’s eye? Our lack of connectivity! The city’s physical disconnection has led to
deep rooted social separation. We have great pockets of interaction
with interesting organizations and tribes working in their own silos of
influence but we lacking an overarching goal that can unify us and
behind which this region can rally. It seems to take the Bucs winning a
Super Bowl (don’t laugh it happened) or the Rays going to the World
Series (that also happened) for the unity of our region to bridge the
bay. Outside of such sports events, what is our region’s identity?

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to make a positive decision and invest in our future. We lost ten years “discussing” our limitations and making a case for us to wallow in mediocrity. Our limitations are
well documented and now remain as paper barriers. Excuses have
amplified our fears and limited our true potential as a region. Let us
have the foresight and courage to push through these frail barriers and
realize our true potential — the potential that only a serious
investment into designed connectivity will bring us.

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Comment by Deborah Fritz on June 25, 2010 at 11:25am
Good post Adam. There needs to be an overall plan for the future for Florida. This missed opportunity could be the chance to make some changes for the future if those in charge are wise enough to see that.




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