TAMPA — Some want more play areas for children and picnic areas for adults. Some want better landscaping and an area to launch kayaks. Others want to make sure safety is a priority.
All want a say in what the redone Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park will look like.
About 200 people attended a public information meeting Tuesday evening as city officials prepare to tackle the outdated park, which is off the Hillsborough River and near West Tampa, Tampa Heights and downtown.
“This park will change; it needs to change,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
The city has hired Civitas, a Denver-based planning and design firm that will propose a new concept for the park by September. Tuesday evening’s meeting is part of the process for conceiving and refining that concept.
John Bowden, who was one of around 200 people in attendance, said he’d like to see park features for children and picnic areas to eat. He’s happy to see improvements planned because the park, which was built in 1977, needs work, he said.
“It needs renovation and life brought to it,” said Bowden, 64, who grew up in West Tampa and still owns property in the area. “You bring life to it, you bring life to the community.”
Ricky Peterika said the park’s location is perfect to connect with several nearby communities and to distinguish itself from the existing downtown Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the Water Works Park scheduled to open this summer just north of downtown. He’d like to see Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park complement the other two parks by offering something the other parks don’t have.
“It’s an opportunity to capture what they can’t provide,” said Peterika, who lives in Tampa Heights. “This could be an opportunity for a park that strikes a balance between people and the environment.”
He proposed removing the sea wall and creating a naturalized river’s edge where people could launch their kayaks, paddle boards and canoes.
“Make it feel like you aren’t in the city anymore for five seconds,” said Peterika, 31.
Mark Johnson, president of Civitas, said some of his company’s employees talked to people in the community before Tuesday night’s meeting and learned that some people didn’t know the property was a park. They thought it was an extension to Tampa Prep or the University of Tampa.
“We thought that was very revealing,” Johnson said.
Civitas has not started to design the park, Johnson said.
Three more meetings with the community are planned: June 10 will be the first round of ideas for the park; Aug. 12th will be a draft plan, and a more final plan will be presented on Sept. 9. All meetings are scheduled to be held at Blake High School.