TEMPLE TERRACE — Riverhills Park offers a gorgeous view of the Hillsborough River, but it’s risky to take your eyes off your feet while strolling along.
You could trip on a bent board or step in a hole.
In the coming weeks, however, you should be able to safely navigate the 1,000-foot boardwalk while gazing through the cypress trees at the beautiful expanse beyond. The Temple Terrace City Council has voted to spend $190,151 to replace the entire boardwalk with recycled materials that, unlike wood, won’t rot.
That’s welcome news to Riverhills Park regular Bruce Mills, who emailed the Tampa Bay Times to complain about the boardwalk and other problems at the park.
"The wood boardwalk has many, many issues,’’ he wrote. "There are multiple areas with rotten wood where a foot would fit in the hole. The support beams on the bridge are falling down.’’
Karl Langefeld, the city’s Leisure Services director, said the work has a 90-day time limit, but he expects it will be finished sooner. He said he doesn’t yet know the start date.
Many of the wood planks bear the names and sentiments of townspeople who had them engraved in a project to raise money for the Temple Terrace Woman’s Club.
The planks cost $25 to about $75 to engrave, depending on the length of the message, said woman’s club member Cheri Donohue, who is also a member of the City Council. She said it hasn’t been decided whether the new planks will be engraved or fitted with a plaque containing the message. Since people buy the message for "the life of the board,’’ they will have to pay again for a new board.
Mills also complained that when he is at the park on Sunday mornings, he sees litter from sex and drug activity, presumably from the night before. He said he is likely to see used condoms and blunt wrappers discarded by marijuana smokers.
For a long time, he said, the two rest rooms were moldy and poorly supplied, and the fixtures were antiquated.
"My main complaint is the lack of stewardship for public property,’’ he said.
He has noticed recent improvements in the rest rooms, however, he said, and they are now being supplied with toilet tissue, soap and paper towels.
Langefeld said city staff painted the inside of the bathrooms about two months ago. A recent check revealed a malfunctioning toilet, but all other fixtures in both rooms worked. The rooms also were well-supplied.
Crews clean the park generally once a week and stop by to check on it at other times, Langefeld said, and he presumes crews just throw away condoms or marijuana paraphernalia with other litter they find. They know to alert him if they find needles there — indicating hard drug users — and that’s never happened, he said.
Greg Pauley, a police officer and spokesman for the city, said officers generally don’t have problems with crime in the city parks.
"I know that all city parks, including Riverhills Park, are part of the standard patrol rotation for evening and overnight checks,’’ he wrote in an e-mail.
"It’s been my experience that from time to time officers do find people in the parks after-hours. In most cases, there is no serious wrongdoing taking place and the officer will simply educate the individuals on park closing times and send them on their way.’’
Temple Terrace resident Amanda Jordon, 38, visited the park on a recent weekday afternoon with children Ethan, 15, Brianna, 12, and Cameron, 7. They come about once a week in the summer so the kids can fish, she said.
"I think it’s nice,’’ said Jordon. "It’s always clean when we come here.’’
Tina Boose, 46, no longer lives in the city but still comes to the park with her kids, Nate, 14, and Emma, 3.
"We’ve been coming here for years and we’ve always loved the park,’’ she said.
Contact Philip Morgan at [email protected]