By Brad Stager
Riding a mountain bike along rugged terrain has become a popular recreational activity in Southern Hillsborough County and that experience will be celebrated with a sculpture at the new traffic roundabout located at the intersection of Boyette and Balm Boyette Rds.
For those driving in the area, the new roundabout itself will hopefully mean a smoother traffic flow on new pavement through what had become an increasingly congested rural triangular intersection.
Situated at the entrance to Hawkstone, one of the area’s many new housing developments, the project has artistic as well as traffic engineering value, according to Willy Nunn, president and CEO of Homes by WestBay, Hawkstone’s developer.
“Art is yet another way we create unique and desirable communities for all to enjoy,” he said.
According to Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White, who represents District 4, the roundabout will help the area develop into a safe community.
“The roundabout will better serve suburban-scale traffic than the previous triangular intersection. This will allow drivers to more safely navigate the intersection and keep traffic flowing,” he wrote in an email. “Additionally, the public art piece will help create a sense of place for residents of the area.”
White added that the sculpture will bear a message encouraging drivers to be mindful of cyclists sharing the road.
Mountain biking is a popular activity in the area, with the roundabout and sculpture near maintained bike trails located at Triple Creek BMX, Balm Boyette Scrub Nature Preserve and Alafia River State Park. The new roundabout is now navigable and the sculpture is expected to be completed in about the middle of 2021.
Geza Gaspar of Venice, Florida is the artist selected to produce the bronze sculpture of a mountain bike rider in action, as well as another sculpture of Riverview Founder Benjamin Moody to be installed on the proposed new roundabout on Riverview Dr. at the new Riverview/Alafia Park. Completion is anticipated in late 2021.
According to Hillsborough County records, each artwork is anticipated to cost $75,000 for a total of $150,000, paid out of public art program funds.