Tidying up Tampa

Extreme Makeover, RNC Edition: The city gets ready.

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click to enlarge WANNA DATE? At a projected cost of $735,000, the Bayshore Boulevard Landscape Enhancement project provided new landscaping to the roadway that officials consider to be the premier gateway to downtown. The Sylvester date palms were planted at a cost of $2,200 each, along with other ornamental shrubbery and ground cover. The same types of trees were planted along Ashley Drive in the approach from I-275 to downtown. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
WANNA DATE? At a projected cost of $735,000, the Bayshore Boulevard Landscape Enhancement project provided new landscaping to the roadway that officials consider to be the premier gateway to downtown. The Sylvester date palms were planted at a cost of $2,200 each, along with other ornamental shrubbery and ground cover. The same types of trees were planted along Ashley Drive in the approach from I-275 to downtown.

There are at least two schools of thought on the recent changes that have taken place in Tampa coinciding with the upcoming Republican National Convention. Some critics believe the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on gussying up for the guests would have been better used for projects having a longer-lasting impact on a greater number of people.

Then there are those who appreciate the upgrades and think Tampa will gain long-term benefit when the international media shows off the polished city. They see the federal grant as a windfall and are glad some of the projects that have been shelved due to lack of funding are being expedited.

One might compare the convention preparation to old-school senior prom night. Much like the city’s pre-RNC expenditures, prom money is spent on dresses that will never be worn again. Resources that might otherwise be used to fix the car or pay for a college class are spent on coiffing, extravagant meals and limousines. Many rules are broken (e.g. curfew) all for the brief period of celebration. For some, the morning after brings jubilation; for others, a hangover, a pile of debt, a loss of innocence, and disappointment that it didn’t live up to all the hype.

Whatever your point of view, the preparations are adding up to one expensive prom dress.

The photos in this collection trace some of the changes the city has undergone. Some show where all that money went; others reflect more organic changes in the Tampa landscape — signs of citizens wanting to make a buck or make a statement.

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