In honor of Florida's 500th anniversary, a Tampa City Council member wants to rename one of Tampa's major thoroughfares after Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida's first governor under Spanish colonial rule. Menéndez de Avilés founded St. Augustine in 1565 and conquered a French protestant settlement on the site of present-day Jacksonville. "I thought this would be a way of honoring our past, and not forgetting it, and not burying it," Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin told council members Thursday afternoon. "It's a very Florida name." Nebraska, on the other hand, is not, she said.
"I would suggest we do a survey of the connotation of what comes to mind when you say Nebraska Avenue," Capin said. "I wouldn't want to put it on our tourism brochures." Nebraska Avenue has had that name since 1876. It was inspired by settlers who moved to Tampa from Omaha seeking new lives and warmer weather. Capin said she's also pushing the renaming to coincide with Mayor Bob Buckhorn's InVision Tampa project to remake Nebraska from downtown to the city limits at Fowler Avenue. But renaming Nebraska won't be simple or cheap. Tom Snelling, the city's planning and development director, told council members the change could cost the city up to $75,000 - a figure that included replacing hundreds of signs at the 162 intersections Nebraska passes through in the city. That number could rise if Hillsborough County commissioners force the city to cover the cost of changing the street's name north of Fowler, Snelling said. Those costs don't include the hundreds of thousands of dollars that business owners along Nebraska will be forced to spend on signs, stationary, business cards, website revisions and the like, he said. "A simple address change becomes very expensive, very difficult to get through," Snelling said. "And it has hidden costs that you don't realize until you start going through them." The city's last major street name change was Buffalo Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in 1986. Capin said she had two businesses on Buffalo at the time. The change didn't hurt her business, she said. "That mall did not suffer because the name of the street in front of it changed," she said. Capin asked Snelling to do a more in-depth study of the costs of the name change, including the cost to businesses and the cost of covering the four miles in the county. Council members supported her 4-2. Council Chairman Charlie Miranda and Councilwoman Lisa Montelione voted against Capin's request. Both said they're against renaming the street. Miranda cited Menéndez de Avilés' murder of the French settlers and the fact he was never elected to office. Montelione said there are better ways to honor historical figures - with busts on the Tampa Riverwalk, for example. "Naming a street after someone doesn't teach history," she said. "It just makes it more difficult for 911 operators." email@example.com (813) 259-7871 Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO