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Monday, May 28, 2018
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Skate Park Hits A Bump In Planning

DOWNTOWN - A few months ago, Sonja Harvey McCoy asked the city how much it would cost to replace the skate park, or Bro Bowl, at Perry Harvey Sr. Park. The answer came, and it was not welcome news for McCoy and other members of the mayor-appointed committee charged with renovation plans for the park, 1200 N. Orange Ave. At the group's meeting Aug. 1, city project manager Brad Suder said a skate park would cost about $460,000. The amphitheater sought by the committee would cost $420,000. The renovation budget is $3.5 million. 'Committee members felt they were deceived,' said Fred Hearns, a retired city official and the group's chairman.
He said they felt ambushed because the cost of a new Bro Bowl is so high and members had requested an estimate months earlier. The committee, which is almost ready to wrap up its plans, has scheduled an extra meeting for Monday. It also plans to meet Sept. 5 before scheduling community meetings. Hearns said the 10 committee members present Aug. 1 voted unanimously to deny use of the renovation money from Bank of America and the Tampa Housing Authority for a new skate park. 'There was a very negative reaction,' Hearns said. 'Earmarking almost a half-million dollars was out of the question to the committee when so many other needs are there.' As for future consideration of the skate park, he said, 'That door is closed as far as the committee is concerned.' Park planning consultant Steven Howarth, vice president of TBE Group, said the door is not closed on a new skate park. He said private donors will be sought. 'There are lots of ways to approach this,' he said. 'Maybe even a sponsor whose name would be on the skate park or grants could be used.' Hearns said the city plans to set aside land for a skate park. 'I think the fact that this has been part of the city for 30 years makes people want to continue with a skate park,' he said. Committee member Bernadine White King said the group has been cohesive in its mission to ensure the 11-acre park reflects the area's history. Black-owned businesses, including a Central Avenue restaurant owned by King's father, Moses White, thrived in the area until the 1970s. 'We are representing our ancestors,' King said. She wants the city to pursue private funding for a skate park. 'But, meanwhile, I hope everyone will respect our wishes as far as our vote goes,' she said. King said she was encouraged that the Bank of America representative at the meeting Aug. 1 told the committee the bank never intended to finance a skate park. 'We were ecstatic he backed this up by sending each of us an e-mail later,' she said. IF YOU GO WHAT: Perry Harvey Sr. Park advisory committee meeting WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Monday WHERE: Parks and Recreation Department, 1420 N. Tampa St. CONTACT: Fred Hearns at (813) 866-5205

Reporter Janis D. Froelich can be reached at (813) 835-2104 or [email protected]

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