What is the value of a new dog park to the surrounding neighborhood?
For residents on the northern half of the Channel District in downtown Tampa, it’s immense, if only measured based on dogs-per-acre.
The Deputy Kotfila Memorial Dog Park
is built underneath the Selmon Expressway, directly across from Bell Channelside and within walking distance of Grand Central and Ventana. It’s excellent thanks to a thoughtful design and dual use of space (dogs below, cars above), and the acknowledgement of a public hero:
Hillsborough County Deputy John Robert Kotfila, Jr. lost his life to a wrong-way driver on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in March of last year. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority wanted to do something to honor his legacy. After learning about the strong bond between Kotfila and his German Shepard, Dexter, it was decided to dedicate the Selmon Greenway dog park in his honor.
“The neighborhood loves it and is grateful to have a shaded space to use year-round, as well as separate space for small dogs,'' says Sarah McKinley, a downtown resident and worker. "They [the dogs] all seem very pleased.”
And as any dog owner knows, dog parks have a way of becoming the main gathering spot for the neighborhood. If anything will force you away from solitary Netflix binging, it’s to take Rufus for a walk.
The Downtown Partnership also recognized other projects for improving the quality of life in Tampa. Winners include The Downtowner free shuttle service
(transportation), The Art of the Brick
(private sector project), Second Screen Cult Cinema
(arts and culture), and the I AM PRICELESS mural
The full list of winners is available on the Tampa Downtown Partnership's website
. Look for winners in categories like historic preservation, experience, collaboration, and people’s choice.
Taken in aggregate, these actors and their impacts build upon the momentum that continues to push Tampa’s urban center in more dynamic directions each year.
A special acknowledgement was also made to Christine Burdick, Tampa Downtown Partnership’s CEO for the past 15 years. She led the Partnership through what many consider Downtown Tampa’s most transformative change in modern times, but will soon retire from her work with the organization.
Burdick is credited as the driver of many successful initiatives, such as programming activities in Curtis Hixon Park, completion and management of The Tampa Riverwalk, relocation of the Tampa Museum of Art, and initiating the Coast Bike Share program.