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Surprise Statue Unveiled at Redevelopment Dedication

A statue of Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti was revealed as a surprise to the public and Affronti himself during a Dec. 1 dedication of the Main Street park and gazebo in the downtown redevelopment area.

Reporters had been told to expect a special surprise, but that was the only information anyone had been given.

At a in the downtown redevelopment area Dec. 1, an object shrouded in a black cloth was uncovered to reveal a statue of Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti.

Before the statue was unveiled, Mike Vlass, of Vlass Temple Terrace, the developer of the project, announced that Main Street will actually be called “Arts Center Drive” to reflect the Arts and Education Center that is planned between the road and 56th Street. He also said the 1-acre park will be called “Civic Park.”

After city officials and dignitaries cut the ceremonial ribbon for the park and gazebo, Vlass and his partners, Mike Lant and Mark Sneed, pulled the cloth off the statue.

Affronti’s jaw dropped, and those around him gave him hugs and handshakes. Affronti teared up as Vlass read a plaque at the base of the statue.

“We Italians get a little emotional,” Affronti said later.

The statue was designed by Jordon Rose of The Randolph Rose Collection and pays homage to Affronti’s support of the redevelopment initiative, according to a press release. The statue was created from photographs provided to Rose. It weighs 300 pounds.

“This tribute recognizes Mayor Affronti for his abiding commitment and dedication to the City of Temple Terrace and its citizens and his solidifying vision and unwavering pursuit of the redevelopment of this site and the creation of a true downtown for Temple Terrace—its ‘Place,’” Vlass said in the release.

Affronti said he was shocked when he saw his likeness.

“It was just a big surprise, and I am deeply honored and humbled by it,” he said.

The park and gazebo are meant to be a place where Temple Terrace residents and visitors can gather, relax and have events.

The park was designed by Site Solutions, which is based in Atlanta, the release states. The gazebo is 540 square feet in size and has a tiled roof. The park also features a mosaic-tiled fountain, live oak trees, shade trellises and outdoor seating. The design reflects the city’s 1920s Mediterranean Revival architecture.

“The park and gazebo reflect the quality and attention to detail inherent in the city’s vision for downtown Temple Terrace,” Vlass said in the release.

Quentin December 04, 2011 at 12:57 AM
It was founded on the misguided views of a small group of people. The "new" area will never be successful because of the low income residents that border the city. The core citizenry of Temple Terrace will never frequent that area. Take a look at who is patronizing the Sweet bay, I can tell you they do not live in Temple Terrace. Once that is painfully apparent all you'll have is the bill that you incurred. The developer is the big winner.
Rollo Tomasi December 04, 2011 at 01:09 AM
It wasn't the vision of the citizenry, it was the vision of a cabal who got the deal done in a fashion which might be called questionable by some. No matter how many times you call a skunk a stallion it's still going to be a skunk.
Grant Rimbey December 04, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Again, the redevelopment is founded on the vision of the citizenry of Temple Terrace. Redevelopment is an age old tool for cities to rejuvenate (what is the alternative?, abandon and continually move further out to former pastures and fields?), just because y'all have never seen this doesn't make it infeasible. Please offer your alternative to the cities current redevelopment direction. I am highly suspicious of anyone who throws around words like "never" so easily.....:) "It wasn't the vision of the citizenry", Rollo, you simply do not understand the history of this project. Did we see you at the charrettes/workshops?
Rollo Tomasi December 04, 2011 at 04:48 PM
Someone doesn't understand but I'm pretty sure it is you. You sound like someone running for office. Time will tell, this debate is moot. In 5 years I want to make sure you remember your words as the downtown remains vacant and the city still will be paying the bill on it. I want to see your statement through those rose colored glasses you have firmly affixed to your eyes.
Steven McBride December 04, 2011 at 05:02 PM
There was a huge turnout for the charrettes. A pro redevelopment mayor was voted into office by a majority of the citizens. Council members who are very pro redevelopment were elected and reelected. I don't see that as being the vision of a "cabal." The redevelopment will be what we make of it. If the citizens continue to support it with their presence and their purchases, then it can only succeed.
Grant Rimbey December 04, 2011 at 09:34 PM
Dear Mr. Tomasi, please offer your alternate downtown redevelopment strategy for Temple Terrace via steps 1,2,3. I'm all ears. I've helped further the redevelopment project for ten years now, and if you have an alternate redevelopment strategy, I would enjoy learning about it. I merely want our city to have a viable future. Appreciate the input, Steven.
Grant Rimbey December 04, 2011 at 09:41 PM
You're right Steven, if the citizens of Temple Terrace did not support the downtown redevelopment project, it would never have gotten as far as it is. Our city should be proud, especially considering the current economic slump.
Rollo Tomasi December 04, 2011 at 11:47 PM
Are you seeking office Rimbey? you sound like a shill or a candidate. Time will tell out who is correct.
Jamie Robe December 05, 2011 at 02:03 AM
Hi everyone, I fully understand that change can be unsettling for many people. It is not easy for a city or community to redesign itself. The planners and citizens who worked on this project for many many years did get feedback from hundreds of our fellow residents. The fact that our democratic system enables us all to vote in or out our local council members and mayor proves that the redevelopment plan has had the approval of teh voting majority in our city. What you can do about teh situation now is try your best to use your contacts, creativity, and resourcefulness to make the redevelopment work. To sit here and slam the project is easy. Why not figure out ways to get businesses to move into the new buildings, or better yet, simply go down there now and buy things in the stores that have already moved into the new spaces. I do not buy the attitude that the "core" of TT residents will not shop or go to a new restaurant thee. What are you going to do, drive past the new downtown Radio Shack and drive 20 miles to another one in a supposedly "safer" area when you need a computer cable? We already have some great restaurants that are very popular all around that area. I can see some really fantastic business opps for relocating or starting a restaurant, bookstore, cafe, or shop in what will soon be a fantastic venue. People will drive from New Tampa and SOHO to come see our downtown. It will make our property values go up for sure.
Grant Rimbey December 05, 2011 at 02:15 AM
Jamie, thank you for the calm voice of reason. Mr. Tomasi, if I am a candidate, I have been one for the last ten years. (I still await your alternate downtown redevelopment strategy for Temple Terrace via steps 1,2,3) :) Give me a call if you don't want to post it here.
Rollo Tomasi December 05, 2011 at 04:01 PM
I have no need to call you,I have no wish to call you. You are of no importance You can carry the banner for all who have drank the kool-aid but there are still some who can see that the emperor has no clothes. We are done here as you now are just becoming a bore. If you ask for ideas I think the redevelopment is a good idea but as for my plans? I would have started by NOT giving away all the property free and now owe millions in payments on something I do not own. Good luck in your obvious posturing for some public office, your ability to obfuscate the simplest of issues will serve you well. No more responses.
JS December 06, 2011 at 04:30 PM
The redevelopment, whether, as citizens we like it or not, is with us. The money is spent, the debt created. We must now come together to do our best to see that it is a success. We must stay on top of our government officials and the city council to ensure everything possible is done to assure the money does not go to waste.
Grant Rimbey December 06, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Here, here JW!
Ashley Reams December 07, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Just to clarify, the City of Temple Terrace did not plan this event and was not involved in the creation or unveiling of the statue. The city has a partnership with the Vlass group to redevelop the property, but the property is entirely owned by the Vlass group and the ceremony was designed, orchestrated and paid for by the Vlass group.
Quentin December 08, 2011 at 03:53 AM
Of course, I would erect a statue to someone who gave me a 22 million piece of property.
JS December 08, 2011 at 01:17 PM
I am smart enough to know the record of government in these types of projects is not great even with the economic climate to support it, which we do not have. I was not crazy about the deal, but because the city and the citizenry took so long to act we ended up having to negotiate entering a second economic depression and a real estate free fall after paying for assets at the top of a market bubble. I was actually surprised, even given the sweetheart deal, a developer could be found given our future outlook. I am also smart enough to know that we now need a success of the project, more than ever! Creating animosity amongst those involved in project and between fellow citizens will only hinder that success. That is the way they do things in Washington. I would hope at the local level we can come together and face our challenges rather than obscure them with after the fact petty bickering.
Theo. Rex December 08, 2011 at 04:58 PM
I’m sure you all know that “Rollo Tomasi” was the fictitious name of a criminal in L.A. Confidential (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119488/synopsis). It is a waste of time to debate folks too cowardly to identify themselves, no matter how right the cause. As Mr. Rimbey mentioned, if the naysayers had a viable alternate plan for Temple Terrace redevelopment we would have seen it long ago. Talk is indeed, cheap.
Ashley Reams December 09, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Let's all please remember to be respectful and avoid comments that could be considered hurtful.
Rollo Tomasi December 09, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Hurtful or satirical? cowardly is a term that needed to be addressed. I chose satirical instead of insulting. Controversy drives publicity it's a win-win for the patch! (come on you chuckled when you read it you just have to remain professional)
JS December 09, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Hi Rollo, I am not a self appointed speaker of truth. I don't know Grant, never met him. Don't know Affronti, nor anybody else on city council and I'm not a member of the country club. I didn't support the Town Center program. However, we are now stuck with it. You can spout truth until your dead, it does no good. I look at it like this, you have 4 choices before you, because I had to make the same 4 choices. 1.You can continue to deride and lambaste the project, only reeking further harm on an already troubled idea to no ones benefit but your own ego. 2. You can become quiet on the whole subject and simply go away, but your ego will never allow that. A personal ego with the need to be right is a difficult to suppress, for adults as for children. 3. You can move out of the taxing district, thereby removing the direct risk of the project from your person and family. Perhaps Washington DC or Tallahassee where egos run wild and leaving ruin in their path. 4. Or you redirect the energy of your ego, dropping the need to be the voice of the lost side of the cause to fuel your need to be right, helping do whatever it takes to assure the project is a success, even a marginal success, to protect our city and the investment. If it fails, your ego will be happy, you were right, but to what end? I would hope you choice is the adult one. I will place my doubts about that on the back burner, in the same place I have had to place my doubts about the Town Center.
Rollo Tomasi December 09, 2011 at 06:09 PM
How would you know what my ego is? rather presumptuous of you. If you go back and read I only am pointing out obvious truths. I have no ego on this subject, It is a done deal but don't feed me a line of crap and not expect me to say it's crap. I merely pontificate on these points with no agenda (as in not seeking future office). As some have figured out, sheep need herding. If you are loud and act like you know what you are doing most sheep will follow you. But in direct response to you, You also do not know me so you are in error as to trying to direct my activities. This IS my responsibility A dissenting view always allows for a clearer analysis of a subject. So you give up and fall into line like most of the sheep I choose not to. I am left with only clear comment on the issue and will continue to make such comments. When there are snake oil salesmen stating how they have the cure all in a little bottle and to step up and buy some!, I choose to question. you may go now citizen nothing for you to see here.
JS December 09, 2011 at 07:24 PM
No ego in your statements? Go back and reread your own post. You comments on other peoples motives and attacks on their personage, implied or direct, is the true definition of presumptuous. As you yourself say: " I only am pointing out obvious truths." The only reason an obvious truth would need to be pointed out by anyone is for self-aggrandizing support of the ego. If you see a tree on the corner, do you point to everyone and say tree? An obvious truth, by its very definition, is already apparent. What I did was nothing more than point out my own thought process concerning the town center and suggest, albeit in a somewhat implied fashion, that it may help you resolve some of your internal anguish. As far as directing your own personal activities, nothing could be further from my intent. Your activities can only be directed by yourself guided only by your own feelings of self worth and personal value, which is then reflected in your approach to dealing with others. There is nothing presumptuous in this statement. This is how we all self validate, myself included. I clearly stated that those 4 options where ones I myself had considered. Having made my choice I moved on. Alas, it is clear, as I had feared it would be, which option you have chosen.
Jamie Robe December 09, 2011 at 08:47 PM
"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps." Confucius One way or another, the debate over the redevelopment is water under the bridge. JW is right on when reminding us to figure out how to pull together toward success. It is important for all of us citizens of Temple Terrace to remember that other views make us stronger, BUT we also need to understand that not everyone benefits from in the same way or values the benefits of improvements to the city. There may be fears from businesses in the older parts of our community that the newer redeveloped area will pull customers away, etc. The best approach is NOT to look at it as a zero-sum game. One does not have to take away from the other. Customers and new residents WILL come in from outside the city AND current residents who must drive outside TT for many services/products/fun experiences will shop locally - both ultimately result in better economic times ahead.
Jamie Robe December 09, 2011 at 08:51 PM
Thank you Ashley. You make the difference between the commenting system here on your Patch and other anonymous systems out there. You probably could have bleeped these things or locked down commenting, but you instead made a clear statement of the positive intention behind your work here. I wish all website / hyper-local news sites reflected your ethos :-)
Rollo Tomasi December 09, 2011 at 10:38 PM
You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia," but only slightly less well known is this: Do not speak on things you know nothing about and cannot grasp. It is painfully obvious this discussion is beyond you, I suggest you go look at some simpler articles that are more your speed like the ribbon cutting , simple and easy and within your scope.
JS December 09, 2011 at 11:35 PM
Rollo, There really is only one way to finish a conversation of this nature in a form that someone of your demeanor can understand and fully comprehend: "Sticks and stones my break my bones, but names can never hurt me.' And in response to your next forthcoming personal attack poorly disguised as pithy comment: " I know you are but what am I." Tag, your it.
Rollo Tomasi December 10, 2011 at 12:24 AM
..........I rest my case.......
Grant Rimbey December 10, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Thank you Ashley, I trust we are all working towards a brighter future for our city.
Ashley Reams December 12, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Patch had to edit a comment that originally appeared here. Here is the edited version: Rollo Tomasi 12:29 pm on Friday, December 9, 2011 Theo. it is a nom de plume or a stage name... The comments are true and someone has to speak the truth other than the self appointed "bringer of truth" Rimbey
JS December 15, 2011 at 12:27 PM
I know you are but what am I.

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