Mayor Bob Buckhorn today officially reopened a part of North 22nd Street in East Tampa Wednesday morning that has been blocked from through traffic for years to make the street and area safer, as he and a host of local and elected officials held a public ceremony to officially open up the roundabout at the intersection of N. 22nd Street with E. 22nd Avenue, E. 23rd Avenue and North 21st Street.
Other improvements along the 22nd Street corridor include landscaping, irrigation, enhanced crosswalks, increased sidewalks, a 10-foot multi-modal trail on the west side, improved bus stops and shelters, and pedestrian lighting. While construction was occurring, aging water and wastewater lines were replaced and upgraded, all part of a $5.6 million upgrade provide by the department of transportation and city taxpayers, with the funds coming from the Community Redevelopment Agency created in East Tampa that goes directly into enhancing the district.
"For a lot of us who have been around for awhile, we remember what this street used to look like," said Mayor Buckhorn in his remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Referring to former public housing complexes at College Hill and Ponce De Leon he said " We remember what this community looked like, and it was wrong," referring to drug sales that used to dominate the landscape.
Buckhorn gave a shout out during his speech to previous mayors who have worked on redeveloping the economically challenged area, and remarked on how much stronger the relationship between the police and the community is (aided by a police substation that was built in the neighborhood back in 2007).
Interestingly there was apparently some controversy in the neighborhood about creating the roundabout, which aren't seen in too many places in Tampa (perhaps the best known is in front of the Florida Aquarium).
College Hill Neighborhood Association President Cynthia Few says that some people weren't accustomed to it and "and some people just don’t like change, but it’s progress," adding that "we’re accepting it and you see it’s beautiful."
Councilman Frank Reddick, who represents the district on the Council, joked that "If you can understand what a yield sign means, you can travel this roundabout."