Tampa's Green ARTery movement turns two listen09/30/13 Samuel Johnson
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The Green ARTery is a community-based movement which is focused on connecting the green areas of 20 Central Tampa neighborhoods for pedestrians, cyclists and recreationalists. Saturday morning the mayor and others applauded the work already done by the grassroots organization but recognize there’s more to do.
During the second anniversary of Tampa’s Green Artery initiative. early birds were welcomed to a country fair atmosphere with a distinctive musical backdrop. Transportation manager for the city of Tampa, Jean Duncan, said an ecologically friendly public attitudes inspires the city’s transportation polices for this and other Tampa projects.
“With this generation of people that we have now...everything we do now that is the goal: to be as green as possible. So that's certainly going to be out there as part of the options...Is to try to make things less gas oriented; less pollution oriented and greener technology for things. So that's certainly in the discussions.”
In order to garner ideas about planning and implementation, Tampa has elicited the expertise of the consultancy firm Perkins Will. It is assisting in the redevelopment of a 22 mile loop of old rail road tracks in downtown Atlanta. Ryan Gravel, senior associate, said the best advice is to avoid thinking small.
“Think big. The bigger it is; and I don't mean geographically, although that's part of it; the reach of it...But also, don't be afraid to be really deliberate about including affordable housing and community stabilization and green space and connectivity and public health and all those things. When you talk about the project as a sort of vision that incorporates all those things; (then) you're bringing in a lot of other constituents to help support the project and push it forward in a way that is much more difficult to do if you have a very narrow view of what you're doing.”
The Green ARTery has the Hillsborough River as the boundary to the North and West, McKay Bay and Old Tampa Bay to the South and 40th St to the East. East Tampa was epicenter of the second anniversary celebration held at Fair Oaks Community Center on 34th Street. Tampa City Council member, Frank Reddick, underscored the importance of raising awareness in all neighborhoods of the project.
“Events like this you'll hear about in South Tampa. You'll hear it going down town and the Channel Side area. So to spread it out to the eastern portion of the city is very very important. Because we are trying to say this portion of the city is just as important as South Tampa or North Tampa. So I'm just excited that the Green Artery committee decided to do it here and do it in East Tampa”
One East Tampa resident, Edwin Narain, who’s running for state representative, is also running for fitness. Narain, said the green spaces will provide recreation for him and his family.
“Oh man, when it's built...Believe it or not; a couple of years ago I got into running. So I ran Gasparilla in 2011 and before that the Disney Wine and Dine. So, I can see my wife and I pushing the girls out there on the stroller on the trail. So, I'm looking forward to it.”
Tampa Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, is determined to see the Green ARTery project to fruition and hopes it happens during his tenure. Funding, of course, is often an issue. Buckhorn said the time table for completion is tied directly to the health of Tampa’s economy.
“Well, I mean funding is obviously tight for everything. But I think we're going to try to find a way to accomplish this. I may be in phases, but I think it's the right thing to do. And we just have to hopefully let this economy continue to grow which gives us a little more flexibility.”