Tampa Riverwalk - Florida Riverwalk Exchange summit

03/29/07 Seán Kinane
Alan Watts

Today the City of Tampa hosted the Florida Riverwalk Exchange summit. It brought together city officials and business people from cities around Florida that to share ideas about creating successful riverwalks. It included a boat and walking tour of Tampa’s proposed Riverwalk along the Hillsborough in downtown. WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports.




 The City of Tampa has plans to develop 2.2 miles of the east bank of the Hillsborough River which will stretch from the soon-to-be-constructed Heights Residential Development in the north, through downtown, past the convention center and end just before the Channelside District and Port of Tampa. They call this the Tampa Riverwalk 2010 plan because they hope to complete most or all of it before Mayor Pam Iorio leaves office in 2011. WMNF asked City of Tampa Riverwalk Development Manager Lee Hoffman how much the project would cost.



“What we’re looking at is another 40 million dollars to complete all of the 2.2 miles. So it’s another 18 segments that we’ll complete up the river for another $40 million.  We’ve got that divided on the public side and the private side. On the private side 24 million, and on the public side 16 million so that’s city, the state and the federal.”


 Hoffman said that even though private developers would be constructing segements of the Riverwalk, there was no danger that public access would be restricted.

“The ordinance that requires them [property developers] to put that piece of the Riverwalk in, where it is required, also protects the public right-of-way. There’s an easement there, say, in front of Trump Tower. That always has to be open to the public. So even though they put it in and maintain it, it will always have to be open as a public thoroughfare.”


 Mayor Iorio has pledged to reduce Tampa’s greenhouse gas emissions. But there is a lot of development related to the Riverwalk, including the hope to use a tremendous amount of lighting to illuminate the eleven bridges along the path. Hoffman said that the developmental design process is still ongoing, but that sustainable design would be considered.



“In places where we’re going to need lighting, let’s see if we can use solar panels to help us do that. In the cases where we have lighting on bridges, will something like an L.E.D., that is a very low wattage type of thing work, as opposed to an incandescent light bulb? As you look at Kennedy Plaza that goes out, we’re looking at the possibility of using refurbished materials in there. … So as we go through this developmental design, we’re going to look for those opportunities where we can certainly decrease those emissions, decrease the energy use, and use recycled materials where we possibly can.”


 One way to help reduce emissions would be for all energy that is consumed by the Riverwalk project be generated on site with renewable energy, for example through the use of solar arrays. Hoffman said the city is not yet able to commit to a sustainable Riverwalk.



“I think that would be a noble goal. Whether we could do it or not, I’m not sure because I’m not sure what the engineers and architects as we develop would be capable of. But if nothing else, that’s something we should constantly keep in the back of our mind to do that. …We certainly want to move in that direction because that’s where we need to move.”


 WMNF spoke with people who were using the Riverwalk during lunchtime. Reaction was mixed about the project. Haze Dunn (?sp) lives on Harbor Island and was riding his bike along the Riverwalk.



“I believe there’s going to be some restaurants and retail along that and besides the fact that it’s going to be a nice walkway, ride the bikes, take a little stroll. A little more than you have now. You’re very limited really. We’re not really utilizing the beautiful waterfront that Tampa has right now, so I think it’s going to be really nice.”


 John Ray works near the Riverwalk.



“There’s so many things that can be done with the tax money besides expanding the Riverwalk. There’s a bunch of roads like Kennedy that can be taken care of. Homeless situation here sucks, so I think that can be taken care of. … They keep tearing down old things to make new things. I think with the Riverwalk it takes away the historic value of Tampa, too. Ft. Meade thing - there’s only a sign for it now. Before you could actually see that there was actually a fort here.”


 James Harris is a homeless man who sometimes sleeps along the Riverwalk. He said that there would be better things that the city could do instead of spending millions on improving and expanding the Riverwalk.



“Help the homeless, something like that; clothing, food, everything like that. And medication. I don’t need it, but a lot of them does right in this territory.”


 If you would like to see maps, submit suggestions, or learn more about Tampa Riverwalk 2010, visit their website at TAMPAGOV -dot- NET -slash- D-E-P-T -underscore- riverwalk. For WMNF News, I’m Seán Kinane






The Tampa Riverwalk


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