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Tampa may use $15 million from BP settlement to rebuild riverfront park

TAMPA — The city is planning to raid its BP settlement money and its share of a countywide sales tax to pay the bulk of the $35.4 million cost of overhauling Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.

The park that hugs the west bank of the Hillsborough River is intended to be the centerpiece of the city’s ambitious West River plans to rejuvenate the area north of Cypress Street. The city wants to transform the 23-acre park with new boat houses for rowers, a community center, and a waterfront promenade.

In a plan that will be presented to the Tampa City Council for approval Thursday, Mayor Bob Buckhorn is proposing to use $15 million from the $20 million the city was awarded in a settlement from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Another $15 million for the park will come from the city’s share of Hillsborough County’s half-penny sales tax that helped to pay for construction of Raymond James Stadium, among other projects.

The plan may be the biggest outlay the city has ever made on a single park project. By contrast, the redevelopment of the 5-acre Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park cost $15 million.