Operation WIN: City of Tampa, police and code enforcement work together to clean up Sulphur Springs

SULPHUR SPRINGS, Fla. - Wednesday was the first day that the City of Tampa's code enforcement, city clean up and Tampa Police Department teamed up to tackle a project like Operation WIN in Sulphur Springs.

It joins another project, 'Bright Lights, Safer Nights,' which looks to install or replace countless street lights in areas that need them.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the area of Sulphur Springs has become filled with blighted homes and is a haven for illicit activities.

The crews out there are part of Operation WIN.  They are clearing the path to demolish homes, so they then fall under Operation Nehemiah, where the city will maintain the empty lots and employ three code enforcement officers to the area.

One duplex was scrawled with gang graffiti.  Couches and other trash littered the area, too.

Just last week, Tampa Police say they found a full canister of gas inside, a tool that could have been used for arson.

Dan Chesser grew up in this part of town and says it's sad to see what's happened.

"It takes you down, more and more, and you do the best you can.  Just speaking for myself, you just dig in and you remember the best.  You remember when it was good," he says.

"Cleaning up is great," said Chesser, "but if it's a little bit safer, that would be nice.  A little less guns, a little less drugs, and that would help."

He wasn't alone.  Many more neighbors walked outside to see what all the commotion was about.

The city has, so far, torn down nine homes in the area, with an eventual goal of over 60.

Done at a cost of about $5,500 per home, the city says it goes a long way towards ridding the vacant buildings that have become a haven for gang activity, drugs, and prostitution, among other problems.

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