Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Restaurant at Riverfront Park? Not on the menu, Bob Buckhorn says

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn would love to see more waterfront dining along the Hillsborough River, but he's backing away from the idea of trying to bring a restaurant to Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park anytime in the near future.

"I just don't know that at this point in time it would make sense," Buckhorn said last week. "What I would like to have there and what is practical are two different things."

Buckhorn first floated the idea of pursuing a restaurant for the park last September. The city already is negotiating with Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart to bring an oyster bar and chophouse to Water Works Park. And at the time, Buckhorn was looking into a proposed museum — it has since fallen through — that would have added a restaurant to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

But in the months since, several West Tampa residents have objected and told the City Council they are suspicious about the city's intentions for Riverfront Park.

In response, council member Mike Suarez said on Jan. 10 that Buckhorn's administration has a "public relations problem" with residents worried about the park's future. The same day, Council member Frank Reddick urged a top city administrator to tell the mayor to stop musing about Riverfront Park.

"One thing that would help ease the tensions of these residents is if the young man who is in the big house across the hall would stop making all these comments to the press about that park," said Reddick, who at 57 is three years older than Buckhorn. "That is what's causing the problem."

Told last week that the mayor says a restaurant does not appear to be a practical option for the park, Reddick said, "that is good news to hear, but I will still want to see any plans that they have in mind."

Reddick noted that the mayor put $2.5 million in Community Investment Tax spending on the park in this year's budget — money that Buckhorn has said is there as a placeholder for a detailed plan that is yet to be written.

"When you put millions of dollars in the budget for planning and design and you've had not one discussion with the neighborhood's residents, it makes it hard for the residents to feel comfortable with whatever decision you're going to make," Reddick said.

Dr. Lois Miles, a West Riverfront homeowner who has written Buckhorn and spoken to the council about the park, was glad to hear that Buckhorn sounds less determined to pursue a restaurant. She still wants to hear more about any long-range plans for Riverfront Park.

"As long as there's a park there, I'm happy," she said. "I just don't want them to do away with it altogether."

For the record, no one has talked about that. To the contrary, Buckhorn said he wants to make the park more active and a busier center of city life.

Riverfront Park is on 23 acres along North Boulevard across the river from the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts. It has tennis, basketball and racquetball courts, a playground, a small semi-circular theater. It also is home to the Boys & Girls Clubs and the nonprofit Stewards Foundation, which hosts community rowing programs.

Buckhorn said the park is under-used and overdue for an update. He said the city will go out to the community and seek residents' ideas for the park well in advance of any plans.

In coming months, the Tampa Housing Authority, working with City Hall, is paying a consultant to create a master plan for 140 acres west of the river. The area mostly lies north of Interstate 275, south of Columbus Drive and east of Rome Avenue. It is 80 percent government-owned and includes 7,200 feet of river frontage.

One of the first big projects will be to demolish the North Boulevard Homes and Mary Bethune public housing complexes, which cover 40 acres, and replace them with a mix of affordable housing, conventional apartments and commercial development.

Buckhorn describes Riverfront Park as "an integral part of the larger mosaic," but said, "I don't know what the future is going to look like, so I really don't have anything to tell people until we get the larger planning effort resolved."

"The success of North Boulevard Homes and what that looks like affects what takes place in Riverfront Park," he said.

But while he concedes a restaurant does not appear to be workable, Buckhorn is still intrigued about a couple of possible changes for Riverfront Park.

First, he wants to re-route Laurel Street, which currently cuts the park in two big pieces, to the edge of the park. That should create a larger, unbroken space that could accommodate sports or other activities, he said.

Second, Buckhorn still wants to get rid of the large mound next to the playground and the grassy swales and humps that block the view of the river from inside the park.

"Right now I need get that park functional, because it's not really functional," he said. "It's a bunch of bumps."

Restaurant at Riverfront Park? Not on the menu, Bob Buckhorn says 01/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 5:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”