Tampa City Council brainstorms sustainability and quality of life improvements

C.J. Reynolds, Director of the International Ocean Institute, presented ideas discussed at the 2012 Coastal Cities Summit in St. Petersburg, emphasizing how to incorporate sustainability into the tourism industry by protecting natural resources.

"This requires a holistic, integrated planning," Reynolds said. "Enhancing the places we still have; beaches, swamps, etc. and enhancing the public?s access to these things."

Some such enhancements are already underway, including the addition of a boardwalk at Picnic Island, according to Councilman Harry Cohen, hopefully to be completed this summer.

"At Picnic Island, there is a special and unique place for bird watching, isolated by mangroves," Cohen said. "The city is building is a boardwalk there that will allow people to get to the bird watching place without damaging the surrounding area."

Another example of a conservation effort that directly affects residential life in Tampa is that of The Roosevelt in Ybor City, a gallery and community space designed to use a waste to energy system that will allow the building to move towards using zero energy.

Other energy conservation improvements being pursued include proposals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Tonja Brickhouse, Director of Solid Waste and Environmental Science. These proposals include improving the city?s recycling program with more education and outreach to improve neighborhood engagement and reducing department consumption, such as with an "anti-idling policy" so city vehicles do not idle for long periods of time, contributing to carbon emissions.

At a special workshop on Thursday, the Tampa City Council discussed ways to improve sustainability and environmental policy, emphasizing ways that would contribute to maintaining and improving residents' quality of life in Tampa.

After Thom Snelling, Director of Planning and Development provided a briefing on the annual sustainability report, or the Green Resolution, Councilwoman Lisa Montelione spoke about the Council’s efforts in the previous years.

"We need a department with authority, staff and budget to do that work," Montelione said, in regards to overseeing sustainability, energy conservation and renewable energy.

Though this seemed to be a general consensus, that some sort of authority should be developed to oversee sustainability and energy conservation developments in Tampa, the focus was on actual ways that this has and will be improved.

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