Tampa’s Ft. Brooke Park Expansion (FL)

Tampa, FL, 1/27/03 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that it has acquired and lease-purchased to the City of Tampa a 2.4-acre tract of urban waterfront land in downtown Tampa as the third phase of the Historic Cotanchobee-Ft. Brooke Park.

The property was purchased for the city on Friday, January 3, and is being protected through a lease-purchase agreement. The project was ranked “in-the-funding” by the Florida Communities Trust governing board at its November 15, 2002 meeting, so state funding will complete the purchase.

This Tampa park was the first site acquired as part of Mayor Dick Greco’s plan to integrate the city’s waterfront parks into a connected system. The site will allow pedestrian links to popular downtown sites such as the Tampa Convention Center, the St. Pete Times Forum, and the Florida Aquarium. This land also will be a welcome recreational green space for the thousands of people who work in or visit the downtown area.

In addition to its prime location beside the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and across from the Forum, the site is also significant as the location of historic Fort Brooke, an early 19th century US military fortification considered one of the largest and most important bases of operation of its time. The site was the core of the US military installation, and was one of the two anchors of the US Army’s offensive line across the peninsula of Florida during the Seminole Wars of Removal (fought by the United States against the Seminole Indians of FL, 1817-18; 1835-42; and 1856-58). The park is under construction, and the incorporated shoreline is being restored environmentally. A central component to the park is a memorial to the Seminole Wars of Removal, which will consist of an elevated walkway over a native stone face, bearing bronze text panels that describes Fort Brooke, and the men, women, and children whose lives were permanently changed by these Wars. Mayor Greco has commissioned a sculpture for the park that will commemorate the brotherhood between the Seminole tribe and the people of Tampa.

This is the second property purchased by TPL for the city to preserve Cotanchobee-Fort Brook Park. In 1998, Mayor Greco’s office requested that TPL help the city acquire the initial 2.2 acre tract that formed the first phase of the park site. The project design for that transaction, in which TPL entered into a lease-purchase with the City, then helped obtain funds from the Florida Communities Trust state grant program to complete the transaction within a year, is also the model for this project. A second phase of that project added another 2.2 acres to the park in 1999, also with support from the Florida Communities Trust.

“In keeping with our renewed efforts to create open space in and around urban areas, TPL has identified the Tampa Bay area as one of our primary programmatic regions,” said Greg Chelius, TPL’s Florida director. “The completion of a downtown waterfront park, which TPL helped initiate, is a significant step toward economic revitalization and sustainability for this area of Tampa.”

TPL’s Southwest Florida Office, which opened in September 2002, is the Trust’s fourth office in Florida. Located in downtown St. Petersburg, the office serves the entire southwest Florida coast, from Citrus to Collier County.