Tampa to remove rowing teams' graffiti

Tampa, Florida -- The city used to use the word "art" to describe the graffiti along the seawall of the Hillsborough River left over the years by rowing teams.

But, now it's being called graffiti and it is on the way out as municipal leaders continue working on the Riverwalk and make way for more lights like the ones that shine under the bridges.

"They claim it's the longest uninterrupted sidewalk in the world: Bayshore Boulevard," said City Administrator of Economic Opportunity Bob McDonaugh.

Tampa is proud of its waterfront. "We like to beat feet!" And that's why it's developing more of it.

RELATED: More on the Lights on Tampa project

"It's going to be 2.5 miles when we are all said and done,"' he said about Riverwalk.

The project has been in the works for decades. It starts at the Tampa Bay History Center and wraps around the Convention Center and the abruptly stops. For now.

"There's an interim piece being constructed right now," McDonaugh said.

"We don't want to take away from the lighting so the walls will be painted to erase graffiti. Over the years lots and lots of seawalls have been decorated," he said.

Mostly by crew teams, but by other people as well. The city says it has to go, but reviews about the Riverwalk graffiti are mixed.

"Lower class," said one passer-by.

"I like it because it's local color and it's about the crew teams," said another.

"In some cases it looks like things are unkempt - worn down, broken - especially with Riverwalk we want to make the best first impression," McDonaugh said.

According to a release from the city, the cost to remove the graffiti is $80,000, with $40,000 coming from Friends of the Tampa Riverwalk. The work is expected to start at the end of this month and will take two to three weeks.

The graffiti is scheduled to be removed later this month to make way for Lights on Tampa 2015.


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