Laying the Foundation for a Revitalized Wimauma
The smell of fresh tacos lingered in the warm morning air on Tuesday, Aug. 23, as a party of 10 gathered under the awning of Taqueria Los Angeles in Wimauma.
The group, comprised of community leaders, students, and faculty from University of South Florida, the Enterprising Latinas, the Wimauma Community Development Corporation, Hillsborough County, and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), met with a singular purpose. The goal? To put their feet to the street and walk along State Road 674 talking about what they have and what they need to help design the vision of a vibrant downtown Wimauma.
A town with history, Wimauma was founded along a 55-mile railroad route in 1902 by Captain C. H. Davis. The Wimauma post office, built that same year, served as the midpoint between Turkey Creek and Bradenton along the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, which Davis helped establish.
But how did Wimauma get its unique name? It might not be what you think. You see, Davis named the town after his three daughters, Wilma, Maude, and Mary. Talk about leaving a legacy.
As with all towns, the years have witnessed the tides of change.
Stories from the past bring forth visions of a Mayberry-like community complete with soda shops, corner gas stations, and the sound of ringing church bells. A town where everyone knew everyone, and families established roots for decades.
Wimauma is a flavor-rich spot. On weekends visitors can enjoy a variety of cuisine from family-owned establishments, food trucks, and farmers selling their fruits and vegetables along S.R. 674.
Historic buildings such as the post office, elementary school, and the church on the corner of 4th and S.R. 674 are still standing, as are homes displaying traditional Florida architecture. A large percentage of Wimauma residents cycle or walk to get around town, but heavy traffic and fast vehicles make crossing S.R. 674 a challenge.
Plans for the Future
In 2007, a Wimauma Community Plan was developed embracing the priorities of safety, a traditional smalltown character, clustered housing, preservation of native habitats, recreational opportunities, and developing commercial opportunities. In 2020, a series of community meetings were held to update the plan.
With their sights on a lively, safe, and connected downtown Wimauma, community leaders in partnership with the County are working closely with the Florida Department of Transportation to listen to residents so that the finished plan will align with what Wimauma wants and needs.
An in-depth analysis of Wimauma is underway. Once complete, a strategy for a vibrant downtown can be developed.
A Common Vision
As the group finished their walk in Wimauma on Aug. 23 and ended with lunch at Taqueria Los Angeles, the sentiment was clear: This is a team with the same goal. To make Wimauma a safe place to gather and bring the community together.
Liz Gutierrez, Founder/CEO of Enterprising Latinas said it best, "We are a team dedicated to Wimauma's revitalization. It starts with a safe S.R. 674 that will preserve the character of our downtown corridor and create a commercial hub for our residents. This will lend to developing a vibrant downtown Wimauma."
In early fall, findings will be presented to the Wimauma community and the final presentation is expected in early winter. Until then, residents can share their feedback at any time by visiting the online Wimauma engagement hub.