Don't let these lapse

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(x-posted over at the Sticks)

Last year, I purchased a couple domain names – TampaBayRail.com and TampaBayRail.net. I intended to launch a web site on mass-transit and address the Tampa Bay area as one region. Not a separate-but-equal take that local government has had in the past on transit solutions. But those plans were soon forgotten as other issues worked into my life (including hand surgery, political campaigns and walking the dog).

Now, for those of you aware of what the local blogosphere has to offer, you already know David Pinero has Tampa Rail.org up and running. Pinero’s site is a great civic orientated pro-rail web site. The plan in my noggin’ with my own blog/site were just to ride the “rail” names but talk about all transit issues in general. But all of this is really beside the point, so let’s move on.

Basically, time goes by, the seasons change, the Gators were champs and John Grahame sucks. A few weeks ago I got notification from my domain registration company that both domain names were soon going to expire. I could renew the domain names for however-many-years I’d like or I could simply let them disappear into the digital tumbleweeds of the interweb. They’d likely be snatched up by a spammer or domain-name broker with no interest in Tampa, Tampa Bay, transit in Tampa Bay or rail in the region.

The whole thought reminded me of what happened to the previous official website that the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County operated regarding a rail system. A few years back (2002), those governments held the rights to TampaRail.com (check the wayback machine). For some reason, the powers that be (City of Tampa? Hillsborough County?) let that domain name expire around 2003. The name was quickly snatched up and exploited by a Russian domain name broker. The web site and url shifted to BlueHeronMedia.com, then ended up drifting into oblivion before being removed from their servers. Tampa’s official rail website was as dead as the pro-rail movement in the region. But the movement is now stirring again.

This past summer, we were all witness to the grand spectacle of the Hillsborough Expressway Authority trying to launch a new sprawlway through the region. Along with Mayor Pam Iorio (and the Tampa Bay Partnership and Tampa International Airport) renewing a push for a regional rail system through the Tampa Bay area. Emphasis on the Tampa Bay regionalism of their presented interest.

So, what’s a guy to do? I have control of TampaBayRail.com and .net. I could sell them and possibly recoup some of the costs of the domain names — eventually. Instead, I decided to do some good. I offered both domains to the City of Tampa. You entrepreneurs may see this as a waste of money on my part, but just consider it a good deed.

Suffice to say, the city was receptive of the idea, so both names are now controlled by Mayor Pam. I don’t expect you to see a regional rail website any time soon, but there is the possibility for a united Tampa Bay rail effort on the web — with TampaBayRail.com potentially it’s base location on the web.

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