Tampa breaks ground on one of largest city park projects to date

Groundbreaking at Fair Oaks Park // Chris Young, April 12 2024


One of the largest projects undertaken by the Tampa’s Parks and Recreation department has begun. The groundbreaking of a new recreation complex happened Friday in East Tampa.

Community leaders and developers gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking at Fair Oaks Park near Middleton High School in East Tampa.

A model showing Fair Oaks’ planned 33,055-square-foot recreation center // Credit: City of Tampa news release, 4/12/24

Tampa City Councilmember Gwendolyn Henderson represents District 5.

“People say stuff not happening in East Tampa, you let them know – you’s a lie! That is not true. That is not true. We are developing East Tampa, we care about East Tampa!”

The $34.7-million project was approved by Tampa City Council last month. The centerpiece is a 33 thousand square foot center with a gym, classrooms, and a dedicated space for seniors. The project will also have basketball and pickleball courts.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor spoke at the groundbreaking.

“This hasn’t been an easy road that we have travelled but I think we can all agree that it is definitely worth it.”

But Tampa City Council member Bill Carlson doesn’t agree. He says the park is outrageously expensive, and criticized the bidding process for the construction.

“As a policy person or a businessperson, you have to look at the total expense, not just the capital expense, because, my great grandkids, if I have any, are going to be paying for the park.”

The new recreation center is expected to open in fall 2025, and the entire complex is scheduled to be completed in spring 2026.




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