A visually and cartographically explicit narrative blog about Tampa's built history and development.
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Monday, June 17, 2013

The Bro Bowl is a preservation first in Tampa!

After almost 3 hours of passionate pleas and speeches from both sides of the Bro Bowl preservation battle, the City of Tampa's Historic Preservation Commission voted 4-2 to recommend the Bro Bowl for historic status!  Shannon Bruffett, the man who submitted the historic preservation application for the bowl made a powerful and fact heavy plea for the bowl that I believe resonated heavily with the commission.  You could see it in their faces that the commission was truly dealing with something unique here.  But something truly significant has been lost in the reporting of this story.  If the Bro Bowl receives historic designation it would be the first such structure in Tampa to do so before it reaches the 50 year threshold. This could open up a whole new dialog for the preservation of buildings and structures from the recent past.

Sign for the City's Parks "Department" office in Lowry Park (photo provided by Mr. Jake Tremper
After the end of the public comment portion there was almost dead silence as the commissioners looked at each other wondering what to do next.  Members of the commission openly discussed how he was conflicted with the task that was put before him.  Opposition came from both the City, the Tampa Housing Authority, the local skating community and historian Fred Hearns.  I was wondering why the individuals who fought so hard just to get a skating into the plans for the redeveloped Perry Harvey park were opposed to historic status for the bowl.  Is it because they are under the impression that if the bowl stays, then their newly designed skate park will be ripped from the plans?  Fred Hearns, who was a member of the original design committee, made it clear that if the Bro Bowl is designated historic then it is back to the drawing board to replan the park.  A representative from the City Parks Department showed plans from FDOT for a future widening of Orange Avenue that would cut into the bro bowl.  But a representative from FDOT was later called up and she explained that those plans were 15 years old and that there hasn't been any funding for the widening of Orange Ave and these changes are not slated for the future.  Shannon Bruffett and the other supporters of the historic designation made an impassioned case showing that the Bro Bowl was one of 3 bowls from the 1970s left in existence, with the Bro Bowl being the only one unaltered.  Ultimately the facts spoke for themselves, and there was no good reason why the Bro Bowl couldn't be recommended for historic status.  Now onto the next stage!

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