Fighting back tears, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin went before City Council Thursday morning to talk about her husband of 17 years, journalist Terry Tomalin, who died in 2016.
Council was being asked to name the new city campground in the northwest sector of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve after Terry Tomalin, a noted outdoorsman and outspoken advocate for giving young people from urban environments the opportunity to spend quality time in the natural world.
“Terry,” said his longtime friend Mike Jefferis, the city’s director of Leisure Services, “was very opinionated about our parks. He was very happy to share with me what we were doing right, and what we were doing wrong.”
Three days before Tomalin died, Jefferis said, he learned about the city’s plans to convert the acreage – which had been used for Boy Scout and other group camping events- into a place where families of any size were welcome. “We’ve been talking about honoring Terry with the re-naming of this property since 2016,” he announced.
The deputy mayor explained that her late husband, author of the book Everyday Adventures, had written for the Tampa Bay Times for 25 years, and regularly brought the beauty and awe of the world’s farthest-flung corners to his readers.
“But his best stories were the ones he told about the wonders of the outdoors right here at home,” she said. “He helped us learn, and love this beautiful pace we are so fortunate to call home. And he wanted all of us, especially our city’s underserved children, to feel confident about their place in the outdoors, and committed to nature, and to take it outside.”
The resolution passed unanimously, with Councilmember Lisa Wheeler-Bowman absent. The Terry Tomalin Campground will be officially dedicated July 3, it was announced, along with several other capital improvements to the northwest part of Boyd Hill.
The Tomalins’ 20-year-old son, Kai, also emotionally addressed the Council:
“Even though my dad was gifted with the incredible opportunity to travel all over the world, he was incredibly passionate about making adventure accessible. And I can’t think of any better way to honor him than providing the members of our community with a place right here in their back yards where they can get close to nature.
“I know that today I still hear my father when I go on walks, when I listen to the wind, when I see a river flow or hear a stick crunch beneath my feet as I walk the trails of Boyd Hill, and I know by Odin’s Beard I will continue to hear him and feel him in all the things I do.”