By Matt Wiley
Away from the orange construction signs and hazy, dust-filled air that frequently inhabits the Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. corridor during the still-ongoing widening of New Tampa’s main thoroughfare, our area is full of wetlands, woodlands and wildlife. For that reason, a new park has opened that attaches to the existing Flatwoods Wilderness Park to further showcase the area’s natural beauty.
According to a press release from the City of Tampa Parks & Recreation Department, the 122-acre New Tampa Nature Park officially opened on November 26, or a couple of days after we went to press with this issue. The new park, which connects directly to Hillsborough County’s Flatwoods Park trail system, is located at 17001 Dona Michelle Dr., south of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. and east of I-75.
“The New Tampa Nature Park is a great, active park,” says City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Children can explore nature and learn. The park also connects residents with miles of existing trails where they can walk, hike and bike safely. Our commitment to New Tampa is not just in roads and sewers, but it is embodied in our parks and playgrounds as well.”
The park includes a half-mile-long entrance road, parking for 22 cars and two buses, storm water control elements, an elevated boardwalk “nature walk” that crosses a wetland habitat, a shorter elevated “marsh walk,” picnic areas and a playground, which even includes a “zip-line.”
The land for the project was acquired through assistance with the Florida Communities Trust Preservation 2000 program and the Hillsborough County Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP).
Coordination between the City of Tampa and other regulatory and governmental agencies has taken place to conduct environmental management requirements, such as exotic species control and prescribed burns. This environmental management includes an adjacent 70-acre parcel owned by the South West Florida Water Management District, bringing the total area of the site to almost 200 acres.
The release says that the general contractor for Phase I was QGS Development, Inc. The total cost of the Phase I improvements was $927,469, which was paid for through Community Investment Tax funding.
For more information, please visit TampaGov.net and check out the “Parks & Recreation” page.