Sunday, January 24, 2010
A New Park Grows In Tampa
I moved to Tampa six years ago and I quickly realized that Tampa is a southern city that lacks major public and civic amenities when compared to other major cities across the country.
To put it another way, Tampa is the Dollar General of cities, offering cheap basics but not much more.
For example, every big city has a big downtown park to host major civic gatherings from concerts to festivals.
I never did understand that. Tampa relied on a square-ish park called Lykes Gaslight Park, which was good for small events.
But it was no Central Park. Past mayors were exalted for making Tampa a big-league city. Except they forgot to build a major downtown park that could galvanize a city
Today, Tampa took a step to address its downtown green space woes.
It officially opened the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park next to the Tampa Museum of Art.
The ribbon is ready to cut.
The billboard trailer made an appearance at the park opening to promote Pat Kemp's candicacy for the unexpired term of the Florida House District 58. Here, the famed bicycle billboard leans on the railing along the Hillsborough River.
The park looks pretty. But lack vegetation and shades trees. And bike racks. There are just four metal loops bolted into the ground for an entire park.
I spoke with Steve Dagnault, the city's public works and utilities director, at the festivities and asked him if the city will have bike lanes on roads leading to the park.
The city's utilities/public works chief thought that was pretty funny.
Welcome to Tampa.
Here is one bike parking area with two bike-rack loops at the new park off the riverwalk . . .
. . . and these two off Ashley Street.
It's not a ribbon-cutting without the mayor chatting with a youngster.
Without bike racks, people leave bikes on the ground.
With not enough bike racks, people lock up bikes on railings.
With no place to lock bikes on racks, bikes hang out.
Memo to Tampa government: people love to bike if you give them a safe place to bike.
Tables set up for kids.