PORT TAMPA — The Rough Riders are leaving their mark on Port Tampa once again.
The charitable group, named after Teddy Roosevelt’s famous cavalry, is donating $15,000 to rebuild the demolished gazebo in the Spanish-American War Memorial Park.
“People are extremely, extremely happy about it,” said T.J. Goodman, a Port Tampa resident and member of the Rough Riders. “We’re ecstatic that it’s finally coming to fruition.”
In May 2012, vandals damaged the original structure and it fell as city workers attempted to repair it.
The gazebo stood as a community symbol and landmark at the park for more than 70 years. Longtime residents of the neighborhood remember holding weddings and picnics there, and visiting Santa Claus at the gazebo during the holidays, Goodman said.
City workers originally proposed repairs that could cost between $10,000 and $50,000. Port Tampa residents decided shortly after the gazebo was destroyed that they would rather raise the money and rebuild it themselves.
When the structure fell, members of the Rough Riders immediately began discussing how they could help, said Max Garcia, a board member for the Rough Riders.
They decided to give the money to pay for the construction, and a member, who is a general contractor, will lead the building and design efforts.
“This has been a long time coming,” Garcia said.
The group is comparing prices and trying to determine how much skilled labor will be needed to rebuild the gazebo, so there is no time frame for when construction will start, he said. The group will apply for the building permits with the city as soon as possible.
The Spanish-American War Memorial Park was dedicated in 1951 to the 16,000 U.S. troops — including the Rough Riders — who embarked from Port Tampa to fight in Cuba during the Spanish American War. It is at West Shore and Interbay boulevards.