1 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Tampa, Florida --There is a major controversy over plans to demolish the historic Bro Bowl Skate Park just north of Downtown Tampa.

The City of Tampa wants to get rid of the Bro Bowl and build a new city park.But there is a group of people who say, it has historic significance.

The 10 News Investigators have discovered community advocate Fred Hearns, who is supporting the city's position, is being paid by the developer and the city.

Hearns is a well-respected community activist who has been helping spearhead the development of the $2 million park for the past six years, but records we uncovered indicate Hearns, who is pushing plan, is also on the payroll.

Hearns points out him saying the 35-year-old Bro Bowl must be destroyed and moved is something that he's advocated and pushed for years, adding, "A lot of other people feel the same way".

But, not a lot of other people are receiving $11,000 from the developer and the city.

Hearns says, "I don't see a problem with that."

But some who are fighting to keep the Bro Bowl, like Shannon Bruffett, who says he respects Hearns, are disappointed.

"I think it would have been better if he had divulged this from the beginning. That way, everything is on the table and people can make their own decision what his intentions are,"Bruffett says.

As for the $11,000, Hearns insists he is being paid to provide a historical perspective, not to advocate the city and developer's position that the Bro Bowl must be destroyed in order to preserve their vision of the new Perry Harvey Senior Park.

"People who know me, know that, nobody can buy me for $11,000," Hearns insists."So what I've said, I said, because I believe it -- not because I'm getting money for it."

And while Hearns says the money doesn't matter and he's always maintained the Bro Bowl would have to go to fulfill the vision of the $2 million park, why didn't he tell everyone.

"I'm telling everybody who is listening right now,"Hearns replies.

But the $11,000 fee isn't the only public money Hearns has been receiving as a consultant.

Records we obtained show the Tampa Housing Authority has paid him more than $35,000 since 2009 for work on the adjacent Encore community redevelopment project. That project has a $30 million federal grant to try to bring back the neighborhood.

1 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wtsp.com/1cQlxFh