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Groundbreaking Held at Perry Harvey Senior Park in Tampa

Jul 21, 2015

Tampa community leaders gathered Tuesday morning for a groundbreaking at the Perry Harvey Senior Park in downtown Tampa. 

The park celebrates the history of Central Avenue- the hub of black-owned businesses that flourished during segregation along that street, the black entertainers who passed through, and the local civil rights activists who left their footprints in Tampa.

 

Dorothy Harvey Keel is one of Perry Harvey's daughters. "I wish that he was here to experience it so that he would know people were appreciative," she said.

Dorothy Harvey Keel is a daughter of local civil rights leader Perry Harvey Senior.
Credit Yoselis Ramos

Keel's son, Sean Keel, said the day's event is a stark contrast to other news happening nationally.  

"In light of what we see on the news and all the negativity and everything going on, it's nice to see some positive kind of things happening," Sean Keel said. "I see a community come together around an ideal that's particularly focused on African-Americans doing positive things or having celebrate their history of doing positive things." 

The park's facelift has been underway for years and more recently, its progress had been halted by the Bro Bowl, a concrete skating bowl that was constructed in the park in the '70s. The bowl made it the National Register of Historic Places but that did not keep it from being moved to the north end of the park. 

Mayor Bob Buckhorn referenced bowl activists in his comments.  "I'm thankful to all of those who had the patience to put up with the last year and a half knowing full well that we would get to the finish line sooner or later, that those were merely speed bumps...or skaters." 

 The park is being renovated with almost $7 million from a federal grant. Construction is set to be completed by early next year. The park will include an interactive fountain, a history walk and statues honoring community leaders; Lee Davis, Robert Saunders, Christina Meacham, Moses White, Henry Joyner, Georgette Gardner and G.D. Rogers.