By Matt Wiley
It’s hard to tell how close the recently opened New Tampa Nature Park is to I-75. The entrance literally lies right next to it. But, once inside, all of the noises of New Tampa’s traffic and construction fade into sounds of chirping birds and rustling of leaves.
The 122-acre park, located on the east side of I-75 near the Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. interchange, opened November 26 (as reported in our last issue), and offers numerous walking paths and dirt trails for bicyclists and walkers, as well as a playground and even a zip line (which Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn tried out after the park’s recent ribbon-cutting ceremony) for families and kids. For residents and visitors, alike, the park is a great place to escape, and take in Florida’s natural beauty, including some close-up looks at local wildlife.
“The woods still have that ‘new’ smell to them,” joked Jeff Duffield, who was enjoying a walk with his wife Sue on December 19 during their vacation from Nashville, TN. “We asked the front desk of the hotel we are staying at if there was a good place to take a walk. They recommended this park. And, they were right.”
The Duffields decided not to try their luck on the zipline, but two-year-old Vishi Kalla had a blast and screamed with delight as his father, Srini, carefully held him in the seat and walked him to the end of the zipline.
“(The park) is great because there aren’t many parks like this around,” Kalla said. “You get to see nature and wildlife that you normally miss out on while driving along Bruce B. Downs.”
New Tampa residents Fran and Bill Davin enjoyed the warm winter weather at a picnic table in the shade.
“It’s a great addition to the city,” Bill said. “The fact that it connects to Flatwoods (Wilderness Park) is great for bikers and serious walkers.” Bill’s wife Fran was using the walking paths to exercise after a recent injury.
“It’s beautiful out here,” she said. “And it’s always wonderful to see the kids and their parents using the zipline. They love it.”
The New Tampa Nature Park, located at 17001 Dona Michelle Dr., has no admission fee and is open from sunrise to sunset.