Brevard leaders hope statue of famed explorer draws visitors

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Brevard County leaders are standing behind spending $67,000 on a park statue honoring an explorer.

They hope the statue of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon will attract more visitors to the area.

Brevard County's tourism agency approved the $67,000 in tourist tax money to help pay for the statue.

A blue tarp will cover the statue until it is unveiled next week.

Samuel Lopez, with the Florida Puerto Rican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has worked for years to bring the project to the city.

"It was a lot of work. (It) took three years to build it. It was done locally, done in Rockledge, and we needed to transport it from Rockledge to here," said Lopez.

Some believe the explorer made his initial landing in what now is Melbourne Beach before he sailed to St. Augustine.

"They think this was perhaps the original landing site, so we thought it would be worth checking out," said Melbourne Beach resident Sean Black.

William Capote, mayor of Palm Bay, supports the neighboring city's project.

"I can guarantee you that people will get curious after a while if the right marketing is done to bring people there," said Capote.