tampabay.com

Rowdy Bucs fans start a turf war

By ALEXANDRA ZAYAS
Published May 11, 2007


Drunk Buccaneers fans flood her neighborhood from nearby Raymond James Stadium, discarding empty beer cans on her lawn and congesting her narrow residential road. After years of battling them alone, Evelyn Alvarez now has some support.

That's because after six months of working with the city to organize an official neighborhood association, Alvarez sat with 14 of her neighbors at their first meeting last month.

Last year, Alvarez and others who live on W Woodlawn Avenue filled the front row of Mayor Pam Iorio's town hall meeting to speak out against the party that crashes their neighborhood after Bucs games.

"Traffic backs up bumper-to-bumper for two hours, " David Rodriguez told the mayor. "People are screaming and honking their horns at 11 p.m."

City officials who weren't aware of the issues approached them after the meeting, and encouraged them to organize.

"We didn't know you existed, and we wanted you to exist, " Lorena Rivas, with the city's neighborhood and community relations department, told residents.

Police and traffic officials were on hand at the neighborhood meeting to answer concerns about illegal dumping, bad traffic and vandalism.

City officials walked neighbors through some city services and encouraged them to organize social events.

"We want you to go away tonight and communicate, " said city director of neighborhood relations Shannon Edge.

They did just that.

After living in the same neighborhood for 50 years, Dalia Zatarain finally met her neighbors. She and others vented about speeders and trucks tearing at the roads.

Retiree Angie Molina walked away as an acting president, with a roster full of names and excitement about forming a neighborhood crime watch.

And Rodriguez walked away from the meeting hopeful that there would be strength in numbers.

"I think it's going to help us get some things going, " Rodriguez said.

The young organization doesn't have a name yet. So far, they're just the "Stadium Area."

But they have some momentum now.

"We're not giving up, " Alvarez said.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 226-3354 or azayas@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

 

Do you live here?

The boundaries of the Stadium Area neighborhood are: south to Tampa Bay Boulevard, north to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, east to Armenia Avenue and west to Himes Avenue. To connect with the neighborhood association, call the city department of neighborhood and community relations at 274-7835.