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Public to help shape park

Downtown A former homeless hangout will get a makeover.

By KEVIN GRAHAM Times Staff Writer
Published September 7, 2007


Residents and business owners will soon have their say in redesigning a downtown park mired in controversy when the city closed it two years ago.

Herman Massey Park shut down in August 2005 so that contractors for the Residences of Franklin Street condominiums could use it as a staging area for equipment.

Just before it went offline, Massey Park made news when police arrested several people there for feeding the homeless. Officers charged them with violating a city ordinance that prohibited serving food without a permit.

A chain link fence soon went up as developers began work on the Residences of Franklin Street, displacing homeless people who regularly used the park.

As construction wrapped up on the condo tower, equipment went away and residents moved in.

But the public park, at N Franklin and E Tyler streets, remained closed.

The first steps in reopening Massey Park should begin this month, said Linda Carlo, spokeswoman for Tampa's Parks and Recreation Department.

The city will assess the park and take inventory of what's there.

A meeting will then take place with "stakeholders," Carlo said - nearby residents and business owners.

"We will go to the public and say, here's what we know about the park," Carlo said. "Then we'll ask, what are you thinking?' What do you need?What are your desires for the park?'"

Carlo said the city plans to design several concepts for the park based on public opinion, which parks officials plan to solicit in coming weeks.

The city is trying to figure out a convenient time and place to hold a public meeting, which she expects about 30 to 40 people to attend.

Carlo said it's too early in the planning process to say when Massey Park will officially reopen.

Mayor Pam Iorio announced last month that the city will spend $1-million on the renovations.

Kevin Graham can be reached at 813 226-3433 or Times staff writer Emily Nipps contributed to this report.

[Last modified September 6, 2007, 08:29:54]

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