Council member eyes waterfront park off Gandy

Posted at 11:20 AM, Sep 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-29 11:20:16-04

"I just come to relax,” said fisherman Steven Sharp.

His fishing lines rarely get crossed out here.

"It’s a nice little fishing spot,” he said.

The small city park at the tip of the Gandy Bridge is hidden away behind the mangroves.

But it may not always be so quiet.

"They open it up too big, it's going to be too populated. Too many people are going to come down here. Then you get the trash,” said Sharp.

There's talk of expanding A.J. Palonis, Junior Park along the bay, opening this stretch of waterfront up to the public.

"What I envision is that the parking and the building that's already there would remain. We would use that building for, we could have a vendor come and put a small restaurant in. Love to see us have place so people can rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boards,” said Tampa City Council member Mike Suarez.

But Suarez says the U.S. Marines Reserve base that's been here for 62 years would have to find another home.

"If we could find another spot for the Marine Corps, in my mind, the perfect spot would be MacDill Air Force Base. It's more secure. You still have access to the Bay in which you could practice with the amphibious vehicles that they have,” he said.

The Marine Reserve base also serves as a Toys for Tots headquarters, a launching spot for training and a well known community outpost.

"When our warriors came back from Afghanistan, Iraq, we greeted them there. We welcomed them home,” said Anthony Wilbur, United States Marine.

Wilbur has plenty of memories here.

"When a move is made, you have to be careful and you have to make sure your getting the same space,” said

Suarez says that may become possible with the help of federal lawmakers who could facilitate a move to MacDill property.

"Otherwise, I'd have to find another spot,” said Sharp.

Though this fisherman is sure an expansion would only lead to more knots.