Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn understands brightening the city’s economic prospects requires attention to detail, both big and small.
So arranging a deal that provides free Wi-Fi access downtown may not be as glamorous as helping bring the city international attention with the Bollywood awards, but it is a significant step nevertheless.
Buckhorn wants Tampa to be known as a cool place for young professionals and understands connectivity is essential for them.
As the Tribune’s Keith Morelli reports, the arrangement with Bright House will make Wi-Fi available at city parks and along the Riverwalk by the end of the year. The city will pay nothing for the service, but has waived permit fees and is expediting permitting.
The free service is limited to two hours a day, when there will be an option to purchase additional service. This seems reasonable, given that Bright House will spend $1 million on the project.
The agreement is another notable step in the transformation of downtown Tampa into a hot spot.
Residential towers have brought thousands of people downtown, and more projects are in the works. Soon there should be more than 10,000 downtown residents.
All this is attracting restaurants, businesses and events, such as the initial Mayor’s Mac & Cheese Throwdown scheduled Saturday in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
Whether it is turning the river green on Saint Patrick’s Day or bringing in food trucks for monthly lunches, Buckhorn never passes up the chance to add spark to downtown life.
He also is working to strengthen the urban core. The development of the city’s Waterworks Park and the Gonzmart family’s Ulele Restaurant along the river in Tampa Heights, north of traditional downtown, should energize that neighborhood.
The city also is working with residents on a plan to revive the neighborhood across the river, including overhauling Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.
Also this should make the heart of Tampa much more livable, interesting and prosperous.
Many people, of course, are involved in the city’s urban renaissance, but Buckhorn is its most visible and determined champion. He’s making connections, and not just for Wi-Fi.