Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

Ruth: Dude, where's the vital historical significance?

If this is what passes for a historical landmark in Tampa, it is only a matter of time before the cheesy spaceship of hoochie-coochie joint 2001 Odyssey assumes its honored place at the Smithsonian Institution in tribute to the healing powers of bump and grind.

Do you suspect the folks over at the National Register were deep into their Manhattans when somebody decided it would be a bully idea to designate Tampa's Bro Bowl skateboard park as a vitally important historic place?

A skateboard park? Really?

Try as one might to find it, there is no evidence George Washington ever zipped around the Bro Bowl on a skateboard. There's not even any indication that former Mayor Dick Greco got lucky at the park. But you never know.

The historic places moniker for the Bro Bowl skateboard park, where as we all know Gen. Douglas MacArthur signed the Japanese surrender documents ending World War II before doing a few goofyfoots with Emperor Hirohito, could disrupt plans to develop the area into a memorial to Tampa's Central Avenue black history.

Imagine wanting to create a thoughtful tribute to the city's racial history at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, only having to share the same space with kids whizzing around on their skateboards simply because some dimbulb in Washington thought playing with a toy should trump honoring the city's civil rights past.

What? Do these people think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. actually said: "I have a dream … to half-pipe"?

For his part, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was not amused at bestowing historic places status on the Bro Bowl, where you will recall Gen. Ulysses S. Grant accepted Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender after the Battle of Gasparilla.

Hizzoner, who has big plans for the Perry Harvey Sr. Park redevelopment, reacted to the Bro Bowl's heightened historical status as if someone had suggested St. Patrick's Day be renamed British Imperialism Day.

"It's not historical and it's marginally insignificant," Buckhorn sniffed, obviously unaware that the Bro Bowl was the setting for the signing of the Magna Carta, Custer's defeat at the Little Bro Bowl, and Charles Lindbergh's solo trans-Atlantic flight — on a skateboard no less.

Indeed, Buckhorn floated the possibility he just might send out some bulldozers to turn the "historic" Bro Bowl into Tampa's version of Roman ruins. After all, what's the fun in being mayor if you can't use your juice to destroy stuff every now and then simply because you can?

Of course that sort of mayoral temper tantrum could come at a price. Because the Perry Harvey Park project involves about $2 million in federal grants that could be put at risk if the city were to destroy an object d'absurdity that has been dubbed a federal historic place, even if the only "history" to occur at the Bro Bowl was being featured in an obscure commercial video for skateboards. Not exactly the Zapruder film here.

The predicate for the Bro Bowl historical places standing is that it is supposed to be the first public skateboard park built in Florida — in 1976, less than 40 years ago. I have ties older than the Bro Bowl, but that doesn't mean they should be regarded in the same breath with man landing on the moon.

In any event, the new Perry Harvey Park includes a brand-spanking-new skateboard park elsewhere on the grounds. By the National Register's history standards it ought to gain Mount Rushmore status by 2015.

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