Tampa's Riverwalk keeps growing

Although the dream of a Riverwalk goes all the way back to Tampa's mayors in the 1970s, it was under Iorio that the vision of a walkway running along the Hillsborough River became more than just a pipe dream.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the new extension, which goes along the Brorein Street Underpass, is Quotes on the Water, a series of quotations engraved in the walkway.

The city's Urban Development Manager, Bob McDonough, quoted the Martin Luther King Jr. passage. "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase," which he said was the whole story behind the Riverwalk.

Steve Anderson is with the Friends of the Riverwalk board, the agency tasked with raising private funds to assist the city in the completion of the trail. "As the Riverwalk gets closer to completion," he said, "our objective is now to bring life to the Riverwalk," mentioning food festivals, concerts, boat races, boat docs and slips and artwork.

"It's no longer a dream, ladies and gentlemen," Anderson said, looking over at the crowd of city and downtown officials as well as some members of the general public. "This is the beginning of the reality."

There are now 1.5 miles of completed Riverwalk along the Tampa waterfront, with two significant gaps left, one south of Curtis Hixon Park and one north of the Straz Center. The city is hoping to win a grant worth nearly $11 million for the project later this year.

A little more than two years ago, CL editor David Warner and this reporter were escorted by then Mayor Pam Iorio around the just completed part of Tampa's Riverwalk that ran from Channelside Drive to the Tampa Convention Center.

When I informed Iorio that I ran daily along the streets of Tampa, she exclaimed, "This is for you, Mitch!"

By that she meant it was for all Tampa residents, which is why, whenever there's an extension of the route as announced on Friday morning, it's significant for downtown residents and anyone else who wants to stroll, run or ride bikes in the city.


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