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Skaters' dream moves closer

Dade City officials narrow the sites for both a temporary and a permanent skate park. Right now, it's illegal to skateboard downtown.

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 15, 2002


Dade City has narrowed its search for a home for skateboard enthusiasts currently barred from downtown streets, with commissioners left to consider a handful of recommended sites for a temporary and a permanent skate park.

Laura Beagles, assistant to the city manager, told commissioners Tuesday night that the staff and a committee of volunteers -- including skateboarders -- have targeted some likely locations.

Beagles said part of the Tampa Electric Co. parking lot between Meridian and Pasco avenues was the best candidate for a temporary site. Commissioner Bill Dennis countered with his recommendation of a rarely used SouthTrust bank parking lot behind the building.

Beagles said she planned to ask the bank about allowing the lot to be used and would report her findings to let commissioners make a final decision on a temporary space.

For a permanent skate park location, Beagles said the committee recommended the grassy lot along Pasco Avenue across from the police station, as well as Watson Park, the old Optimist Park behind the courthouse, and a grassy lot next to the Lindy C. Smith Civic Center, which houses the YMCA branch.

The startup cost for a temporary facility could be kept to about $1,750 and a permanent park could be running for less than $5,400, according to the staff report.

Neither estimate includes the cost of buying the obstacles and jumps that skateboarders use to perform tricks.

Commissioners have been looking for a solution for skateboarding since last year.

Skateboarding downtown is illegal, and police fine those caught riding skateboards in the area.

Skater Jesus Calderon, 16, served on the committee that worked with Beagles to develop the recommendations.

"If you were to get a skate park built, it would get a lot of people off the streets," he told commissioners.

Calderon said skaters might not object to paying a small fee to use a temporary park if the money went to build a permanent park.

Commissioners made positive comments on the report and said they would discuss the temporary park again once they hear back from SouthTrust.

"I'm thinking at some point we might want to have a couple of these parks," Mayor Scott Black said.

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