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Skateboard court may go in Safety Harbor park

It may mean some shuffling of other facilities, but city planners see benefits of having it at the southside park site.

Published March 27, 2004

SAFETY HARBOR - Coming soon to a park on the southside: some ramps, a grinding pole, and a concrete slab to do some fancy skateboarding.

Commissioners have found a location for the skateboard court, an 80-by-120-foot area that will have ramps, platforms and other equipment for skateboarders. The court will be located in the northwest corner of Safety Harbor City Park, also called South City Park, on Seventh Street S. It should be open before the end of the year.

"We've been working on a site for quite a while now," said Tom Ronald, director of leisure services. "That has been the most difficult thing. Now that we have the site nailed down, we can proceed from there."

The location will mean some shuffling of other park equipment. The playground will move near the Little League fields, and the tennis courts behind the concession building will be removed completely.

But the court will make the area much more of a hangout for teens. The Safety Harbor Community Center is located nearby and has a teen room and two gymnasiums.

Park officials still haven't nailed down what kind of skateboarding equipment the park will have. But a group of middle school kids have done a model of their dream court.

That model has been used to give equipment manufacturers an idea about what the skateboard court should look like.

"It gave some of us old-timers a lesson on what makes a skateboard park successful," said Commissioner Keith Zayac. "It's a slab of concrete surrounded by a fence. You have movable metal and fiberglass furniture, ramps and things like that."

With the skateboard court, Safety Harbor will become one of several cities in Pinellas County, including Dunedin, Clearwater, Oldsmar and Largo, with a place for teens to practice their stunts on wheels, such as acid drops and grinding.

City Commissioners had been discussing building a skateboard court in Safety Harbor for more than a year, but they couldn't agree on a location.

Consultants chose Safety Harbor City Park because of its proximity to restrooms and water fountains, the visibility from nearby streets and the convenience of the court to skateboard enthusiasts.

"The location of the skateboard park across the street from the recreation center means it can be manned when it's open," Zayac said. "It's visible to parents and the police. It's also on higher ground."

But that location has posed another problem for the city.

Tennis courts don't fit in well with baseball fields, a skateboard court and a playground.

Zayac has an alternative suggestion. He said the city should explore building a tennis center similar to McMullen Tennis Center in Clearwater.

"We have tennis courts in three different locations," Zayac said. "The problem with that is if you go to one location and it's full, you have to go to another one. I think the way tennis works is, if they're all together, they're better maintained."

The city has agreed to do a feasibility study to evaluate the cost of consolidating the tennis facilities, gauge resident demand and determine if there is land to build such a place.

In the meantime, Wade-Trim, a Tampa consulting firm, and city staff are planning to meet next week to discuss the actual design of the skateboard court. The estimated cost is about $360,000 - half of which is covered by a state grant.

"It's the best location for it," said Ronald about the skateboard court. "At the same time, we need to replan that whole area to make it a little nicer."

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