Tampa, Temple Terrace clean up neglected properties
Code enforcement officials hope to persuade the owner of an abandoned townhouse at the corner of Blaine Drive and 52nd Street in Temple Terrace to repair a broken window and spruce up the property or face a fine. AUSTIN O'TOOLE
BY JOYCE MCKENZIE Special Correspondent
Published: August 27, 2013
Updated: August 28, 2013 at 08:21 AM
The City of Tampa Neighborhood Enhancement team came together recently with the Temple Terrace Code Compliance officials in the first-of-its kind joint cleanup effort. The sweep centered on the Temple Crest and west Temple Terrace neighborhoods from N. 50th Street east to 56th Street, between Busch Boulevard south to the Hillsborough River. At a news conference at Temple Terrace City Hall prior to the two cities’ joint venture, Temple Terrace Mayor Frank Chillura told those gathered for the event that there are benefits to working in partnership with other jurisdictions. “Code enforcement strategy affects the health, welfare and livability of a community and because we have a good relationship with the City of Tampa, I see this as all very positive,” said Chillura, noting he hopes the undertaking will be long term.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who last month launched an aggressive campaign to curb blight within his community, agreed and likened code enforcement challenges to “cancer.” “The problems don’t recognize boundaries like you see on a map,” he said. “The opportunity to partner with Temple Terrace is exciting.” Jake Slater, head of the City of Tampa Neighborhood Enhancement program, called it “a new time and a new day.” The cities’ primary code enforcement violations are overgrown grass and shrubs, strewn trash and debris accumulation, which was the case during the sweep. Temple Terrace Code Compliance Officer Tom Borroni said such infractions are mainly seen on properties facing foreclosure. “A tell-tale sign is the height of the grass and backyard swimming pools containing algae, something we take very seriously because of the potential of a child’s drowning in one,” Borroni said. Abandoned vehicles and discarded tires that litter the rear parking lot at the now closed Whistle Stop Junction site on East Fowler Avenue and 52nd Street in Tampa – that borders the Temple Terrace city limits – has also been an ongoing eyesore in the community, Borroni said. It is seen as a prime example of how Temple Terrace’s partnership and communication with City of Tampa code enforcement officials can help solve the problem. “This joint effort is outstanding, especially as it relates to this property,” said Tampa Code Enforcement Officer Lee Hartman. “Just because this property isn’t within Temple Terrace’s jurisdiction doesn’t mean they will turn a blind eye to it.” Temple Terrace Code Compliance Director Joe Gross sees the partnership as “beneficial” to the community as a whole. “We’ve always had an ongoing relationship with Tampa and this will only enhance it,” Gross said. “We can learn from each other.” Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.