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A Times Editorial

Editorial: Honoring Tampa's past while building its future

Now that a pointless fight is over involving the historic status of a downtown Tampa skate park, it's time the city moved on by honoring its past within a more meaningful civic project.

Built 35 years ago, the Perry Harvey Sr. Skateboard Bowl became both an architectural icon and a tool for integration. Its location near a public housing complex served to bring urban black children together with white kids from the suburbs, earning it the name Bro Bowl.

But the Bro Bowl and Harvey Park are also the site of a much more sweeping history, the place where black restaurants, stores and theaters thrived in the first half of the 20th century. When the city moved this year to honor that legacy by building a new Harvey Park, which calls for demolishing the Bro Bowl, skate enthusiasts fought back, seeking historic status as a way to stop the project. Last month, the National Park Service made the designation, listing the Bro Bowl on the National Register of Historic Places.

The designation, though, doesn't kill the city's park plan. It means the city will have to show some consideration for the Bro Bowl in its new park design. That could be a plaque, or incorporating pieces of the Bro Bowl into a new skate park, which had already been planned for the property. It is time to reach an accommodation and move on.

The city should honor the Bro Bowl, but not at the expense of losing the great lawn envisioned for the new park. The bowl is a footnote compared to the history that local African-Americans made on that side of downtown. The sooner the city rebuilds Harvey Park, the sooner it can make this legacy come alive in a thriving neighborhood again.

Editorial: Honoring Tampa's past while building its future 10/31/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 2:19pm]

    

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