University Area CDC seeks funding for sidewalks for students

A sidewalk is being installed around Harvest Hope Park, the seven-acre park under development in the heart of the University Area community. But for students from Mort Elementary School, much of the roughly one-mile journey from school to Harvest Hope must be made without a pedestrian path.

The University Area Community Development Corporation (UACDC) wants to change that by raising funds for a sidewalk connecting Mort to Harvest Hope.

The proposal is the result of a walkability study conducted in 2016 and 2017 by the UACDC, Florida Department of Health, and Metropolitan Planning Organization. The study demonstrated a lack of sidewalks throughout much of the neighborhoods surrounding the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida. 

Harvest Hope Park is part of UACDC’s overarching aim to foster health and wellness for families living in the University Area community. To that end, the UACDC envisions more sidewalks. 

“One of the critical pieces of that is making sure we have a safe access route for families and children to be able to get to the park,” says Sarah Combs, UACDC CEO. “So, we're trying to create a pedestrian path from Mort Elementary to the park.”

The park -- which will include a garden, teaching kitchen, multi-purpose sports field, playground, outdoor fitness stations, walking trail, and tilapia fish pond -- is located at 13704 N 20th Street. The $2.5 million development project is scheduled for completion in May.

The sidewalk surrounding the park should be completed by June. As for the path connecting Mort and Harvest Hope, UACDC has secured about $1 million in funding and will need to raise another $1 million to complete the sidewalk project, according to Combs.
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Read more articles by Dyllan Furness.

Dyllan Furness is a freelance writer and born-again Floridian based in Tampa. He covers the Tampa Bay Area’s development boom for 83 Degrees, with an eye out for sustainable and community-driven initiatives.