Mayor Buckhorn joined Richard Gonzmart of the Columbia Restaurant Group, Michael Babb of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, as well as a whole host of civic supporters to cut the big red ribbon to unveil the highly anticipated Water Works Park this morning.
“This is a day I have waited for for a long time,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said as he stood at the podium with both of his daughters. “Not just one year or two years, but 20 years. Think about what this used to be, but more importantly, think about what it’s become.”
The 5-acre Water Works Park includes a large play area for kids, a dog park and plenty of open space for events already scheduled for the months ahead. The kids play area, modeled after a ship, includes a splash pad where a giant elevated bucket of water dumps water onto the kids below. A kayak launch, eight boat slips and a water taxi stop will be installed once the permits are approved. Ulele Spring, formerly called Magbee Spring, has been restored and opened to river. The Tampa Riverwalk was also extended to run through the park. Future plans will extend the Riverwalk further east down the Hillsborough River.
“Three years ago who would believe this area would look the way it does today? proudly beamed fourth generation Tampa native and President of the Columbia Restaurant Group Richard Gonzmart. "When the mayor talked about his dream of converting this park for all of Tampa and Hillsborough county to enjoy, I wanted to be a part of the Mayor’s dream. It will be a destination for my children’s children and their children.”
Many events are already scheduled to take place at the new park, including a free festival this Saturday, Aug. 16, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., complete with complete with food trucks, children’s activities, entertainment, and a fireworks display. Future events consist of outdoor movies, a 5K run, the River Rock Craft Beer & Music Festival (feat. Sister Hazel) on Nov. 15 and a Tampa Heights Music and Jazz Festival on Nov. 22.
The park is located at 1710 N. Highland Ave. For information on future events, please visit www.tampagov.net/news_and_events/calendars/.