The Hillsborough County Public Works Department hosted a much-anticipated meeting at Bloomingdale High School earlier this month to discuss with, as well as get input from, residents on how to spend the more than half a million dollars the county received for road improvements within the Bloomingdale area.
While Herb Marlow, a consultant and facilitator to the county, directed the more than 300 in attendance to stay on topic, the now infamous Bloomingdale Big Box and residential complex development and its subsequent effects on the community soon became the center of attention.
Concerned about the lack of time available for comments, Coordinated Active Neighborhoods for Development Organization (Can-Do) official Fred Brown interrupted the reading of the long list of county projects and urged county officials to hear what his fellow residents had to say about their neighborhood and the already existing traffic woes within the borders of the community.
“You all came here to get our input, so stop wasting time and let us speak,” Brown said, adding, “We have a lot of concerns and questions, to which we want answers.”
Brown’s words received a unanimous applause, quickly moving the meeting into its comments phase, leaving Marlow and county representatives visibly overwhelmed, while residents were left with more questions than answers.
As the comments and questions dealt with a variety of transportation-related issues, residents were clearly unhappy with the county’s approach and seemingly uncaring attitude about the community.
“All I ever hear is adding turn lanes and traffic signalization,” said Can-Do spokesperson, George Niemann. “What we are facing is more development; more business into the community. What I would like to hear is how you are planning on dealing with the 8,000 additional cars on Bloomingdale Ave. I would like the experts to explain to me how the extra turn lanes and traffic signals will eliminate the additional traffic volume that will hit our roads. What you all are suggesting is not the answer to the transportation problems that this community is facing and you know that’s true.”
One-by-one, residents made their thoughts known, which at one point took an emotional turn as one resident shed tears due to concerns over her own children’s safety as they are to make their way to school across Bloomingdale Ave.
The county officials suggested to hold off answering until all comments were finished. However, the well-prepared audience was clearly too much to deal with in one night.
“We will answer all the questions, which will be posted on our Website,” said County Public Works Director, John Lyons, whose inability to answer on the spot only angered those in attendance.
an-Do has filed a lawsuit against Hillsborough County, and the Bloomingdale Big Box developer, Red Cast Bloomingdale LLC.
The county also filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on January 6, 2014. On January 10, the developer also filed a motion to join the County’s motion to dismiss.
A hearing date is now scheduled for Tuesday, March 18 to deal with the Motion to Dismiss the civil case against the County and Red Cast.
For more information about the Bloomingdale Big Box project or Bloomingdale CAN-DO, go to BloomingdaleBigBox@gmail.com.