Weeks after Tampa tragedy due to poor lighting, city has yet to act to correct the problem

The reason for the delay is that the city needs to negotiate with a private homeowner who lives near the site of the accident. The city must get permission before making changes on private property, such as trimming trees to allow for better illumination.

Dorzback also said a survey was being taken in preparation of building a sidewalk at that location. She said that it might take several months for funding and other measures to fall into place.

Dorzback said the location was already on a list to receive traffic calming measures like speed bumps, but added curiously that it wasn't a "priority,' a comment that ticked off Council member Frank Reddick, in whose district the accident occurred.

Council member Mike Suarez, whose child attends nearby Williams Middle Magnet School, told Dorzback he was grateful for the attention placed on the area, but mentioned the obvious — that there are whole swaths of Tampa that suffer from dangerously poor lighting.

Council member Mary Mulhern showed obvious frustration in discussing the issue with Dorzback, who continued to say fixing the area was contingent upon dealing with the property owner. City Attorney Sal Territo then intervened, saying the conversation was veering into areas that had "liability issues," and attempted to shut down the conversation.

Again Reddick became upset, saying he'd heard the same rhetoric about "liability" from city attorneys when discussing Club Empire, the notorious Ybor hip-hop club that recently closed its doors after a murder occurred there in early October.

After further discussion, Council Chair Charlie Miranda said that it was imperative that Dorzback come back before the Council next Thursday with a progress report on lighting improvements at N. 43rd St. "The community is entitled to know the facts," he said. "It's been going on long enough."

Fifteen days ago, 27-year-old Monica Alvarez was killed by a motorist in East Tampa as she and a friend pushed their two children in separate strollers on North 43rd Street toward East Hillsborough Avenue. The incident occurred in a part of town considered notoriously unsafe because of poor lighting and the lack of a sidewalk. Her 6-month-old unborn baby failed to survive the accident, while Alvarez's 14-month old daughter Imani Golden, who was critically wounded, is now in a sleep-induced coma.

The pain that Monica Alvarez's family members are still going through was evident today when they came before Tampa City Council, calling for safety measures such as speed bumps, better lighting and a sidewalk at the scene of the tragedy.

The fact that the city has so far done none of those things angered several members of the Council, particularly after Transportation Manager Jean Dorzback said it might take up to four months to provide adequate lighting and build a sidewalk where the accident took place.

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