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Buckhorn: State of Tampa Is Good, Future So Much Brighter

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn along the Hillsborough River tinted green for St. Patrick's Day.
City of Tampa
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn along the Hillsborough River tinted green for St. Patrick's Day.

With the Hillsborough River at his back, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the “State of the City” is “good” but its future is even “brighter.” The first-term mayor delivered his address outdoors at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to emphasize his vision of expanding downtown so that the Hillsborough River, now its western boundary, will eventually become its central core.

“This is a catalyst for change in this city,” Buckhorn said. “What you are looking at right now, this river, is going to change this downtown as we know it.”

When it comes to the budget, the “State of Tampa” is about the same as last year looking at a revenue shortfall of an estimated $30 million.

Buckhorn acknowledged that tough decisions will have to be made in the coming months, but he worked to rally enthusiasm for the upcoming Republican National Convention in August.

“I know it’s a burden. I know it’s a challenge. I know we’re putting a lot of stuff aside to do this, but this is the right thing to do,” Buckhorn said. “We have got to do it right. We have got to do it better than anybody and at the end of this, this will be an opportunity not only in the short term capital infusion but the long term impacts of having Tampa mentioned tens and thousands of times.”

A few hecklers could be heard as the mayor talked about the convention. But Buckhorn said hosting the Republican gathering is a once in a lifetime event that will benefit Tampa financially and improve its image globally.

“Just imagine this river with all of these bridges lit up. Just imagine what an iconic picture the world will see during the Republican National Convention,” Buckhorn said.

He added that the city is working on a master plan for downtown Tampa and its surrounding neighborhoods that will be unveiled in the next few weeks.

As Buckhorn concluded his speech, music by U2 swelled under his voice as he called for putting aside political differences and artificial boundaries to work together to fix “the baseball issue” and “this transit issue.”

“This is our time, this is our destiny. Ten years from now they will look back on this day and say this is where it began, this is where we started, this is where we turned that corner and began a new chapter in Tampa’s history,” Buckhorn said. "The state of the city is good but our future is so much brighter."

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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