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.