Mayor Buckhorn: Parks Add Tremendous Value to Life in Tampa

Supporting urban park investment around the country is a priority for APA due to the countless benefits parks bring to the communities they serve. Tampa, Florida, typifies a city that recognizes the importance of parks.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn explains his conscious effort to invest in parks to build healthier, safer, stronger, and more inclusive neighborhoods.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, standing on the newly developed Riverwalk, has been a champion for urban park planning and development in Tampa, Florida. Courtesy City of Tampa.

The value of urban park space is clearly evident in the recent development trend in the City of Tampa. Our park spaces have been an integral component for the continued growth of the city. From the renovation of several downtown parks, to the completion of the downtown Riverwalk, and the establishment of increased after-hours youth recreation programming at park sites throughout the city, urban parks have had many positive impacts on the community.

Renewal of the urban core has made Tampa an attractive place to live, work, and play.

A project like the renovation of Perry Harvey, Sr. Park not only created a community space, but also was designed to reflect and honor the African American heritage of the site through art and historical details. The park is a place where future generations can reflect upon and understand the impact African American leaders have made on our community.

Perry Harvey, Sr. Park provides a great community gathering space while honoring Tampa’s African American Heritage. Courtesy City of Tampa.

Creation of the downtown Riverwalk — a 2.4-mile route on the east side of the Hillsborough River — spanned 40 years and six Tampa mayors. This project revitalized the city’s waterfront and created connectivity to multiple parks with entertainment and hospitality venues along the way. This world class amenity has brought interest back downtown with energy and attention to both the natural and cultural offerings available. This competitive advantage for the city promotes healthy lifestyles while attracting new development and spurring economic growth.

The Hillsborough River has become the heart of downtown after the completion of the renovations to the east side of the Riverwalk. Development on the west side of the river includes a new $35 million renovation of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. This large park will feature amenities to meet the needs of a growing and rapidly developing community.

Aerial view of Water Works Park in Tampa. Courtesy City of Tampa.

Tampa’s award-winning Stay and Play program has allowed park spaces and community centers to be more accessible for some of the city's most vulnerable youth. Stay and Play keeps our parks open late in the summer and on the weekends with programmed activities, healthy meals, and positive mentoring in a safe environment.

The City of Tampa’s urban parks provide benefits that include celebrating our culture, promoting health and wellness, spurring economic growth, and keeping the community safe.

For more information on APA’s current work on urban and community park policy and how you can get involved, check out this blog post.

About the Author

Bob Buckhorn is the mayor of Tampa, Florida.

Top image: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa. Courtesy City of Tampa.


August 31, 2016

By Bob Buckhorn