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Public meeting to focus on Bro Bowl, Perry Harvey Sr. Park

Mark Ruble, 36, left, walks around the lip of the Bro Bowl as his wife, Tina, 40, right, takes photos in Tampa’s Perry Harvey Sr. Park in August. “There are warehouse parks everywhere — they’re a dime a dozen — but there’s nothing else like this,” Ruble said. The skateboarding basin has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, provoking a controversy with city officials and black leaders who say the bowl should be demolished to make way for park improvements that honor Tampa’s African-American history along Central Avenue. The public will get a chance to weigh in on plans for the park, and how it affects the bowl, at a meeting tonight.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Mark Ruble, 36, left, walks around the lip of the Bro Bowl as his wife, Tina, 40, right, takes photos in Tampa’s Perry Harvey Sr. Park in August. “There are warehouse parks everywhere — they’re a dime a dozen — but there’s nothing else like this,” Ruble said. The skateboarding basin has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, provoking a controversy with city officials and black leaders who say the bowl should be demolished to make way for park improvements that honor Tampa’s African-American history along Central Avenue. The public will get a chance to weigh in on plans for the park, and how it affects the bowl, at a meeting tonight.

TAMPA — Could the city redevelop Perry Harvey Sr. Park and avoid or minimize the impacts on the Bro Bowl skate park? And if the bowl were demolished, what would mitigate its loss?

Those aren't academic questions, but public ones on which residents can weigh in tonight.

Skateboarding advocates are pushing for the 35-year-old skate park to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. So far, they've won support from historic preservation boards at the city and state level.

Meanwhile, the city of Tampa's plans say it ought to go to make way for a long-planned $6 million redevelopment of Perry Harvey Sr. Park, which surrounds the bowl.

As part of the project, which is scheduled to begin in early 2014, the city plans to take out the Bro Bowl and build a new skate park three times as big, with more amenities and elements that pay homage to the existing bowl. It would be moved from the center to the northern end of Perry Harvey Park. There, it would be out of the way of a history walk, statues and displays honoring the history of Central Avenue, Tampa's black business and entertainment district in the mid-20th century.

Because a federal grant will help pay for the park's redevelopment, officials are required to come up with a plan to avoid, minimize or mitigate the project's impact on the bowl, which has been determined to be eligible for the review.

Tonight, residents will have a chance to offer their thoughts. Approaches to mitigation could, for example, range from putting a plaque on the site of the Bro Bowl to documenting its significance to incorporating pieces of the old bowl in the new skate park. The state Division of Historical Resources will have the final say on the plan.

Tampa officials say the meeting is about letting people speak, not what City Hall wants.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Greater Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, 1207 N Jefferson St. To see city plans, go to tampagov.net/PerryHarveyPark.

Public meeting to focus on Bro Bowl, Perry Harvey Sr. Park 10/09/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 10, 2013 9:09am]
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