UNIVERSITY AREA — A grant and a gala have University Area Community Development Corporation officials singing a happy tune about the addition of a community park.
Hillsborough County awarded the organization a $423,000 community development block grant last week. Add that to the $90,000 the UACDC raised at its recent "Brand New Day" gala, and it's clear the group's plans for a seven-acre park on 20th Street north of Fletcher Avenue will reach fruition.
When completed, the park will include a community garden, tilapia fish farm, learning kitchen, hiking trail, playground and sports field.
Ground will be broken in November to install park lighting, irrigation, fencing and parking. The learning kitchen and community garden are already finished. The park will be completed in phases, with total completion expected in 2018.
"The Harvest Hope Park will allow families to enjoy the outdoors without leaving their community," said Sarah Combs, University Area CDC CEO. "We are growing fresh produce and we will offer free cooking lessons. Eventually, we will have a safe playground and hiking trails where residents can exercise and have fun."
As for the Sept. 23 gala, nearly 400 people attended and enjoyed a fashion show by Prodigy students, a silent auction, and live entertainment that included performances by Fred Johnson, James Crumbly and Shalyah Fearing, who competed on NBC's The Voice last week.
Kenny Leon, a Tony Award winning director, surprised the crowd with an impromptu and powerful speech about the importance of supporting the community.
UACDC's primary mission is the redevelopment of the at-risk areas surrounding University of South Florida's Tampa campus. To learn more, visit uacdc.org.