Park Nourishes Hope
A former empty lot in a low-income East Tampa neighborhood now is a community asset offering children and families a safe place to gather, play, exercise, and learn.
Harvest Hope Park, which formally opened Nov. 21, is a highlight in an area where families are working to grow community resources. The County donated 7 acres for the park and allocated more than $700,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for construction of a sports field and infrastructure including lights, sidewalks, parking spaces, sod, and fencing.
The University Area Community Development Corp. worked with almost 20 public and private entities to fund and build the park. Along with the multisport field, there's a playground, community garden, teaching kitchen, walking trail, outdoor fitness stations, and tilapia fish pond with a dock.
It took four years to complete the project at 13704 N. 20th St. The vision was to create a welcoming place that encourages family play, healthy eating, environmental sustainability, education, and community interaction.
"This is more than a park," says Sarah Combs, executive director and CEO of the University Area CDC. "It's a commitment to the community that positive change is coming."
Neighborhood residents beamed along with dignitaries at an opening ceremony.
Ross Fabian, an area resident and longtime volunteer coach, says the park gives kids a place to congregate and exercise near their homes. For years he has driven young athletes to practices and games at distant parks and sports complexes. "Now they can do everything right here," he says.
Photo: Neighborhood children play soccer on a multisport field at Harvest Hope Park.