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Meeting scheduled Dec. 15 to discuss buying vacant land

TAMPA - Plans to buy a 1-acre vacant lot to provide more parking at Gorrie Elementary and adjacent Wilson Middle schools will be discussed at a community meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15. The planned two-hour session in the Gorrie Elementary School coliseum, 705 DeLeon St., will follow an open-house format, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Lorraine Duffy Suarez, general manager of growth management and planning for Hillsborough County schools, said parking at the two Hyde Park neighborhood schools is inadequate to accommodate faculty, staff and visitors. Forcing parent volunteers and college-age teaching interns to carpool, search for parking and sometimes have their vehicles ticketed is not conducive to "having someone come and participate in your school," said Suarez. The property at 503-505 South Boulevard is north of Wilson and west of Gorrie. "We are always on the lookout for land near our schools," said Suarez. "What an opportunity to find a site across the street from two schools."
The meeting was scheduled in response to concerns of residents who live in neighborhoods around the site, just outside the Hyde Park Historic District. "We decided to have the meeting to tell people what it is and hear comments and concerns." Suarez said. "I've heard people who are happy and people who are not. Some would like to see a more lively use than a parking lot." In 2007 a local builder got city zoning approval for a three-story retail and office complex on the site. "Obviously, that did not come to fruition, so they put that site on the market," Suarez said. Purchase is contingent upon rezoning the property, as the existing classification does not allow a parking lot, Suarez said. While there are no immediate plans to build on the site, it is possible that a small annex could be erected in the future to accommodate growing populations at both of the schools, she said. A rezoning hearing will be held in January. Those unable to attend Tuesday's meeting who want to comment may contact David Borisenko at (813) 272-4609, [email protected] or Suarez at (813) 272-4685, [email protected]

Reporter George Wilkens can be reached at (813) 627-4769

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