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Tampa prunes makeover plans for Curtis Hixon Park

TAMPA — There will be no dog park, no misting fountain and no place to buy snacks.

Those bells and whistles, along with several other features, have been cut from the planned makeover of Curtis Hixon Park to trim millions in construction costs.

Mayor Pam Iorio wants the park to be a centerpiece of downtown and a central gathering place for all Tampa residents, and she planned to spend $15-million on the project.

But after getting itemized costs from Skanska construction, city officials are working on a scaled-down version with a total cost of $12.6-million. "We want to make sure we get a basic park, a complete park to begin with," said city contract administrator David Vaughn. "You're getting all of the geometry and physical shaping of the park, all of the ground surface elements, walk areas, landscaping, irrigation. What you're not getting, for lack of a better term, is the icing."

A price list of park features released Friday includes $1.3-million for a decorative fountain along Ashley Drive, $333,000 for a playground, $264,000 for the Riverwalk and $396,000 for a terrace with seating overlooking the river.

More than 100 trees also will be planted in the park.

The city will postpone construction of a dog park, a building to house canoe or kayak rentals, a snack bar, visitors center, shaded trellis and misting fountain near the river.

City Council member John Dingfelder, who has questioned Iorio on the cost of the park at a time when the city has laid off employees to save money, said he thinks the city should forego the $1.3-million fountain.

"If we opted for the less expensive mist fountain, you could then afford to add the dog park back in," he said. "Urban dwellers will have dogs, and they need a place downtown to let their dogs run free."

The contract with Skanska construction to build the park is slated to go to the council for approval April 3.

Skanska also put the price of construction of a new art museum at the northern end of the park at $24-million. The city will contribute $17-million to construction. Museum leaders will be responsible for the rest.

Demolition of the existing art museum began last month to make way for the park. It will be financed with property tax revenues collected in a special taxing district downtown.

Reach Janet Zink at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Tampa prunes makeover plans for Curtis Hixon Park 03/21/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 23, 2008 10:42pm]
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