Tampa considers turning Bayshore into part-time park

- Thursday, Tampa City Council met with supporters who want to free up a couple of lanes on Bayshore Boulevard to allow for a park-like atmosphere on some Sundays. 

The "open street" concept would shut down northbound lanes on Bayshore Boulevard. Southbound lanes would remain free and open to traffic. 

"It's way to get people outdoors, it's a way to get people talking to their neighbors, it becomes a place to meet your friends," said Elizabeth Corwin, who is on the board for Walk Bike Tampa. It's a community organization working to connect neighborhoods for an active city. 

She and other board members met with the Tampa City Council to make a push to close Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays at least once a month.

"This is not for a long period of time. We're talking about for a day, for maybe five hours or something in that neighborhood," said Mike Suarez, a council member. "We have events here every single year where we block off streets for a lot longer than five hours." 

Most of the council seems on board with the idea, but there are still many questions, like how often and how long with Bayshore be closed? And, where will the money come from to pay for law enforcement and cleanup?

Councilman Suarez also suggested piggy-backing off of other scheduled events, like races. 

"People already know that the streets are closed. If you tell them that it's going to be closed another three or four hours, I think that they'll feel much better about it than trying to say we're going to have another special event that's going to close down the street," he explained. 

Now more than ever, Tampa is growing, as is the number of cars on Bayshore Boulevard. It's what worries some people, but not all. 

"Sundays I've never found a lot of traffic on Bayshore, and there's so many alternative roads," said Lisa Carvajal, who lives near Tampa's most scenic road.  

The open street concept acts more like a "park" in other big cities. 

Bayshore is one of four suggestions to pilot an open street concept. The others include Franklin Street, 7th Avenue, and Commerce Park Boulevard in New Tampa. 

The council will  next meet June 28 to discuss. 

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