Riverview residents will soon have a new place to explore. A new park is being built adjacent to the Alafia River. Not surprising, since the waterway meanders for 25 miles, beginning east of County Rd. 39 in Lithia and runs through Riverview and Gibsonton before emptying into Hillsborough Bay.
Once completed, the 25-acre Alafia River Park, located off Riverview Dr. in Riverview, will include a 1-mile paved walking trail, plenty of green space, restrooms, three picnic pavilions and an observation tower overlooking the river.
The pasture area where the walking trail is planned will be restored to native habitat to support the gopher tortoise population and the remaining landscape will incorporate native species such as longleaf pine, pignut hickory and live oaks for shade.
Another feature of the park is a Native American statue by renowned artist Daniel Horsechief and endorsed by experts from the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. The work is being funded through the Public Art Program.
The project, which has been in the works for six years, is estimated to cost approximately $6.2 million ($1.8 million on the park, $1 million and $3.4 million for the land purchase). Another $1 million is being spent to change the sharp hairpin turn at the entrance of the park on Riverview Dr. into a roundabout.
Division Manager at Hillsborough County’s Conservation & Environmental Lands Management Ross Dickerson said Riverview’s dense suburban development demanded a place for people to enjoy nature.
“This park will be a place for families to gather and have an outdoor experience,” he said. “People will be exercising on the trail, birthday parties and family picnics will happen in the pavilions and children will learn about why our habitat is so important thanks to signage on the path.”
The park and roundabout are expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2022.
For more information about Alafia River Park, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/conservation.