Neighbors protest use of park as a parking lot

Neighbors want city leaders to stop Tampa JCC
Posted at 6:10 PM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 18:10:50-04

"It makes me very angry. This is a public park. Really!,” said Lori Vila Murias. "This is ridiculous and it's almost full."

Car, after car, after car.

"These people are just like zooming in and I'm yelling at them to slow down,” said Murias.

A local grandmother has two reasons to yell. The first, her two-year-old grandson plays at the Vila Brothers Park. The second, this City of Tampa park also honors her father, Joe Vila, and his six brothers who are War World II heroes.

"See he was a U.S. Marine,” said Murias pointing at a World War II Memorial in Vila Brothers Park.

RELATED: Neighbors complain about parking overflow from JCC

"If they feel they need the space but they're going to hurt an honor,” said Ramon Hewitt who is a West Tampa native and WW II veteran.

Today Vila Brothers Park off North Armenia Avenue is a parking lot overflowing from special events at the new Jewish Community Center.

"Right now we do have ten non-profits who have their fundraisers booked in the event hall or in the tent and we are in need of extra parking for those events,” said JCC COO Heidi Shimberg.

Shimberg says the city allows them to use the park on occasion but also says the JCC is working on finding a solution through a valet company.

Neighbors complain it's a regular event routing hundreds of vehicles through Armory Gardens residential streets. 

"It's a playground. There's not too many areas in Tampa where you can play,” said Marlene Lee.

City officials say the JCC is abusing its privilege—that the park is a greenspace not an overflow lot.

However, city councilors waived parking restrictions to fast track the JCC’s construction.

"They'll have to find someplace else to park,” said Murias.

A parking problem leaving West Tampa neighbors dealing with dust and cars and the JCC dealing with nowhere to send special events patrons. 



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