Wednesday evening, some 75 people turned up at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center to hear Mayor Iorio and a group of consultants tell city residents what their plans are for Kiley Gardens and Curtis Hixon Park, as well as what they plan for a 6-to-7-block stretch of Ashley Drive.

WMNF’s Stan Davis was there and filed this story.

[roll tape…]

[Actuality 1- Iorio- “…Many times, cities, they’ll do anything… our civic space.�]

Mayor Pam Iorio kicked-off the Downtown Waterfront Park presentation by describing her vision for the future.

Iorio talked about how important green space is to a city.

[roll tape]

[Actuality 2- Iorio- “… Once the Tampa Museum has a new home …so important to the life of an urban city center…�]

And, she didn’t waste the opportunity to talk-up the Riverwalk either.

Last month, Governor Bush vetoed 3 million dollars in state funding to Iorio’s “signature� project.

And then, he vetoed an additional 2.5 million dollars for a Riverwalk and Downtown parking garage.

Iorio wanted everyone there to know that the success of the Downtown Waterfront Park was directly tied to the Riverwalk’s success…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 3- Iorio- “… The Riverwalk, as you know… and go to the big event…�]

Principle architect, Thomas Balsley, followed Iorio to the podium. Balsley—an internationally-renowned designer of urban parks –pronounced his grand goal for Tampa…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 4- Balsley- “… This park is going to be one of the… in the seats, as we say…�]

Showing his audience a slideshow of design elements from the great urban parks, Balsley presented three alternative visions for the park…

… And every single one of them included a virtually-untouched Kiley Gardens that he hopes to seamlessly integrate with Curtis Hixon to create one unified space with something for everyone.

After that nugget, Balsley’s slideshow began to reveal its limits.

Nothing he showed Wednesday evening had any definite—even unique –features that he was adding to what already exists.

It’s early days yet, and his team of architects and specialists says it’s waiting for input from the public…

… but with a caveat.

Again, architect Thomas Balsley…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 5- Balsley- “… We all believe in public participation… with your comments tonight…�]

Later, Tampa’s Director of Contract Management, David Vaughan, opened the floor to questions.

One possible scenario for improvements to Ashley Drive had featured reductions in vehicular lanes, as well as on street parking. Recent Orlando-to-Tampa transplant, Andrew Weiner, had some news for the consulting team…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 6- Andrew Weiner- “… If you have parallel parking… additional drag that puts on the traffic flow…� ]

Finally, the dwindling audience gathered in small groups, brainstorming with the presenters and themselves.

Two men who were excited about Balsley’s and Iorio’s vision were builder, Steve Breslow—a founding member of the US Green Building Council –and Bauhaus-enthusiast Neil Cosentino.

WMNF eavesdropped on Breslow’s part of their conversation…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 7- Steve Breslow- “…I think the city’s certainly in the right direction … a few people in a very big space…�]

But Breslow was critical, as well. He has an issue with the way the city is going about its plans for Downtown…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 8- Breslow- “…I believe any great city… it was basically {cluck} assigned…�]

In the end, a grand idea is in the works. There are few specifics. The process is really just underway now. If the presenters were, in fact, earnest, then they’re seeking comments from everyone. We’re all invited to send our idea to riverwalk@tampagov.net.

For WMNF, I’m Stan Davis.

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