Tampa using shrubs as a way to hopefully prevent drownings in Temple Crest Park

Some believe more needs to be done

TAMPA, Fla. - On Monday, Tampa Councilman Frank Reddick visited Temple Crest Park to look at the city's safety fix. He wasn't sold on what he saw. 

"I'm not pleased with what I see. I thought it would be something totally different than what I am seeing now," Councilman Reddick said. "It's not what I had anticipated."

Two rows of shrubs have been planted between the Hillsborough River and a softball field. It's an idea that came about after a year-long debate with residents -- a debate that started after two-year-old Armani Pierce drowned back in August of last year.


"I don't think it's going to solve the problem," Councilman Reddick said.


The city's thinking behind planting the shrubs is they hope within a year they will grow big enough and thick enough to stop balls from rolling into the river, and stop kids from chasing after them. 


"If a ball goes through it they are going to try and go get it. Next thing you know they go to far and fell in like that little kid did," Eddie Davis said.


Davis lives across the street and his grandkids visit the park. "They need to put a fence around it. At least a six-foot fence," Davis said. 


The fence idea was shot down after others objected, saying they wanted to take advantage of the waterfront to sit and fish. "They didn't want to see the river closed off," Councilman Reddick said.


The mayor's office says it wants to give the shrubs time to grow before revisiting the safety measure, but Councilman Reddick isn't waiting. "We might have another death within another year and that's what we're trying to prevent," he said.


Councilman Reddick plans to talk with city officials this week about more precautions. 


On Monday night, Mayor Bob Buckhorn's office issued the following statement:


"The plants are meant to be a natural deterrent while allowing others to enjoy the river. We've asked the Parks and Recreation Department to remove the existing shrubs and replace them as needed."


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