City Council revisits Kiley Gardens issue

10/04/07 Mitch E. Perry
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As construction is slated to begin within the next year on a new Art and Childrens Museum along Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa, the question of whether Kiley Gardens will be restored to a level of its former self was discussed at this morning’s City Council meeting.

A year and a half ago, city officials said they would allocate more than $1-million to repair and waterproof the parking garage, which sits underneath the park, and restore it in a "very basic fashion."

But what that restoration means was on the minds of two City Council members this morning, as they were asked to authorize an agreement with the architect for engineering services related to what is known as the Downtown Waterfront Project.

Steve Dagnault, the city of Tampa’s Public Works administrator, told Council members about the current plans for Kiley Gardens.

But City Council woman Mary Mulhern was concerned by Dagnault’s remarks.

Kiley Gardens opened in 1988, but in the 1990’s began to deteriorate. Roots from crepe myrtles damaged the roof of the parking garage below.

The effort to save Kiley Gardens suffered a severe blow a year and a half ago, when city staffers sawed down more than 100 of those crepe myrtles.

Dagnault said technology is much more advanced than when Kiley Gardens was created by the late landscape artist Dan Kiley nearly 20 years ago. He said the contractors would be doing investigative work to determine if trees can be replanted where they previously were.

City Councilman Charlie Miranda said he thought the contractors were going to test how much weight the structure could hold, and determine how to fix the long term problem.

The contractors will come before the Council in December.

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