Faces Behind the Places: E.G. Simmons Conservation Park
A respected government and civic leader, Simmons (1915-1996) served 21 years on the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, 18 of them as chairman. The University of South Florida and Sun City Center were established during his tenure on the Board, 1951-1972. He was a central figure in construction of Tampa International Airport, the founding of University Community Hospital, and the expansion of the Hillsborough County Health Department. Before serving on the Commission, he was a member of the Hillsborough County School Board for seven years, and he later was on Hillsborough County's City-County Planning Commission for three years.
He is the namesake of the Ellsworth G. Simmons Good Government Award, presented each year beginning in 1997 to a person who has improved Hillsborough County through leadership and vision.
Why name a conservation park near Ruskin for him?
Simmons lived his entire life in South Hillsborough County, primarily Ruskin, which is near the conservation park. Simmons' name also adorns a lake in Sun City Center and Simmons Loop Road in Riverview. E.G. Simmons is one of 16 Conservation Parks in Hillsborough County.
Intertwined with waterways and abutting Tampa Bay, the 458-acre park and preserve is 18 miles south of Tampa and about 3 miles northwest of the center of Ruskin. The park has a 700-foot beach, a campground, kayak rentals, a fishing pier, playgrounds, picnic shelters, a boat ramp, and restrooms/showers, among other amenities. Upland areas of the park were developed in the mid-1960s. Nature enthusiasts can watch wildlife in and above a 200-acre mangrove preserve.