Mayors welcome plans for Riverwalk link - FOX 13 News

Mayors welcome plans for Riverwalk link

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's been decades in the making, and it will soon come to life.  Contractors will soon be breaking ground on the final leg of downtown Tampa's Riverwalk.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn and five former mayors gathered to celebrate the news today.

"We have this beautiful river that runs through the heart of our downtown, but you have to open it up so that people can use it.  That's what the Riverwalk is all about," former mayor Pam Iorio explained.

The last segment is just under 2 miles long and will have to run over the water.  It stretches from Curtis Hixon Park south, under the Kennedy Boulevard bridge, and past the Sheraton hotel before reconnecting with the shore.

"This is a link that we needed," another former mayor, Dick Greco, offered as he stood by the river. "This is beautiful.  Been a long time coming.  I was sitting here a while ago thinking about when the swift meat packing plant was here. Rats used to run across the road.  So we've come a long way.

William Poe, who was Tampa's mayor in the 1970s, reflected on the challenges with project -- and the city -- faced back then when the idea was conceived.

"A lot of people didn't have streets and instead of a Riverwalk, we wanted them to have the proper things for the homes," he recalled.

Today's gathering of six mayors was unprecedented, according to Greco, who joked that he was happy to still be around to see it happen.

"Each one of us has had something to do with it so it means a lot to all of us.  Mayor Iorio is young enough to jog the Riverwalk so she'll be around to see many other things," the 79-year-old said to the delight of Iorio.

The final segment is scheduled to open in November of next year.

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