Part of a major Tampa Bay cleanup effort scheduled for Saturday will be canceled because of a Donald Trump rally; the presumptive Republican nominee for president will speak at the Tampa Convention Center and it means that volunteer divers won’t be able to clean up a pier along Bayshore Boulevard.
Tom Damico is environmental program coordinator with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.
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“The only activity that Tampa Marine police have asked us not to conduct is having divers go into thewater, in front of Tampa General Hospital, to scout what litter and debris may be at the mouth of the river,in the water. These are just concerns about the dive activities because of all the other activities that will behappening at the convention center tomorrow.”
“The scheduled dive was to be staged off of Bayshore Linear Park, yes, next to the Jose Gaspar ship that’s docked across from Tampa General. But, because of the activities going on at the convention center tomorrow, again, Tampa Marine Police has just advised that we keep a perimeter of our activities away from the convention area and that includes near the Jose Gaspar because of it’s location next to the convention center.”
The volunteer SCUBA divers help to clean up marine debris underwater.
One of them took to Facebook to complain that the Trump event interferes with the cleanup of what could be “hundreds of pounds of debris and marine entanglement hazards.” He declined to be interviewed. He says he is concerned about the planning and coordination that went into organizing the dive and wrote “Trump gets to speak and the bay remains dirty!”
But Damico says the cleanup will be rescheduled.
“We’ve made plans to already look down the road to reschedule it, as part of our annual HillsboroughRiver and Coastal Clean-up that will be happening on September 17, so we have time to adjust thelogistics and verify that the calendar won’t be interrupted for that event.”
The Florida Aquarium is also involved in the cleanup. Its communications manager, Katherine Claytor, says the cleanup of the Jose Gaspar dock has not yet been rescheduled but it shouldn’t be a problem.
“No, we don’t consider it a problem, like I mentioned The Florida Aquarium is actively cleaning up alldifferent parts of the underwater aspects of Tampa Bay. So, this is merely just a delay in something thatwe are excited to do and we will do in the future and have done in the past.”
Claytor also says she isn’t worried about the delay in cleanup despite the massive flooding from Tropical Storm Colin washing debris into the Bay this week. She calls it a “temporary setback.”
Tampa Police spokesperson Steve Hegarty says it was his agency that made the call to keep divers out of the water near the Convention Center.
“Our marine patrol unit has notified folks that from 10:00 a.m. ’til 2:00 p.m., we’re not going to allow any divers in the area on the water near the convention center. Now, that doesn’t mean that pleasure craft or people who are rowing a boat would not be able to go down the river near there. But, what we’re describing, with the event that you’re talking about would be divers who would be going under water and we’re not going to allow that for that period of time.”
Trump will speak at the Tampa Convention Center in downtown Saturday; the event begins at 11:00 a.m.
Hegarty says police are prepared for, but don’t expect violence: