Last November, the Tampa City Council narrowly rejected a plan by Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s administration that aimed to alleviate the Cigar City’s epic problems with stormwater runoff. But Councilman Harry Cohen suggested on Friday that there will be a new plan to vote on sometime in 2016.
“I’m confident that the city is going to put forth a new proposal this year that will be funded differently and that will look at dealing with the same problems, but perhaps come up with another way of doing that.”
The Council’s vote against the $251 million plan was certainly not an easy call, especially for council members who represent areas outside of the areas that generally get excessive flooding during a major storm.
Cohen was asked to name the four Council members who voted against the measure, but said he’d let others do that, saying that he hoped they would support a new measure. (They were Frank Reddick, Guido Maniscalco Charlie Miranda and Yolie Capin).
Speaking at the Cafe con Tampa breakfast group at Hugo’s on South Howard Avenue, Cohen said an article he read last month by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker about sea-level rise in Miami Beach has only compelled him further to address Tampa’s issues with stormwater.
“It really is a harbinger of things to come for any community that is coastal,” he said. “And for us not to take seriously this kind of a warning from a city in another part of our state would be very irresponsible.”
There were five major projects in that $251 million plan considered most critical that the Council rejected: A project near USF, Dale Mabry & Neptune, Cypress Street, Southeast Seminole Heights and the entire area of South Tampa from Euclid to Mac Dill Air Force Base.
“I am very much committed to bringing the issue back in a different formulation,” Cohen told the group. He said he wasn’t concerned about looking back at last year’s vote, but was looking to see what can be accomplished to “get another bite at this apple.”
Mayor Buckhorn was unavailable for comment on Friday to respond as to whether he’s working on a new plan and when it might be presented, but he expressed disappointment last year when the council rejected his proposal.
“Today’s vote denied us an opportunity to make significant improvements to the stormwater system that are desperately needed,” he said at the time. “If council has a better idea I would listen to it, but I haven’t heard it.”