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Marine base may become a water park

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A City council member in Tampa is pitching the idea to city staff — to transform a military base into a waterfront park.

The property that Council Member Mike Suarez is looking at is the US Marine Corps Reserve Center in South Tampa, where Marines currently train to land on a beach and take over enemy territory.

The small military installation sits on an impressive piece of waterfront property right along Tampa Bay, according to WTSP.

Suarez is proposing that the Reserve Center move into nearby MacDill Air Force Base, where they’d have more room and security. He also suggests if a hurricane hit, it would be more high and dry.

Suarez has a different vision for this location. He says families could rent, use, and participate in water sports. Suarez told the local news station he’d want to turn the place into a city park — particularly for non-motorized water sports like kayakers, canoers, and paddle boarders.

Much of the other land around the base is already in use as a park, he said.  So adding another zone would create an eight-mile long “blue trail” — a chain of waterfront parks along the edge of Tampa Bay.

Owned by FDOT, the property is being leased to the Marines for the next 45 years. Suarez is waiting to hear what folks at MacDill AFB have to say about the idea.

The 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion is the local Marine unit that uses the smaller facility. No word yet what their response is to all of this.

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