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Skating enthusiasts want to be hands-on in new park's design

The city envisions that its second skate park will be a good facility but not "the ultimate megalopolis."

By EMILY NIPPS
Published September 3, 2006


TAMPA PALMS - The city of Tampa is learning that 14-year-old boys with skateboards are quite the finicky little demographic.

So are BMX bikers and adult skate shop owners, and parents who have to drive their kids clear across town to find a decent half-pipe. About 40 people who fell into these categories showed up for the second round of meetings at Compton Park on Thursday to give their input on the city's plans for a skate park near Freedom High School.

Some weren't happy just having their say. They asked to follow the project through, to make sure it's done right. There are too many things that could go wrong with city-approved contractors designing and building street spines and grind rails and fly wedges, they said.

"I wasn't aware that a general contractor would be building it," said 15-year-old skater Kyle Stottlemeyer of Land O'Lakes as he filled out a survey after the meeting.

"Honestly, kids would know more about how to go about building it. When you have basically a playground company building a skate park, you end up paying way more for it. Ramps really don't have to cost that much."

Project manager and city landscape architect Brad Suder studied the results of the first round of surveys, listened to skaters' concerns and reminded them several times that they were working with a $500,000 city budget and a half-acre of space.

"This will be a good skate facility," Suder said. "But this will not be the ultimate megalopolis which some people tend to want to have here."

Still, Suder understood. As a 44-year-old former skateboarder, he sympathized with the shaggy-haired kids sitting in the back of the room and pledged to keep the more vocal skate park enthusiasts involved in the design process. There will be no more public meetings to gather input, but Suder talked about the possibility of forming a small advisory committee.

"There definitely needs to be a focus group," said Sean Albright, a 29-year-old retail manager for Skate Park of Tampa. "There needs to be more than just random young adults blurbing out an obstacle they want to see."

The city is also looking into using a swipe-card system to use the recreation center facility, adding water fountains and bathrooms that can be accessed from outside and using outdoor fans or misters in the summer.

In the 36 surveys the city has collected, half of those surveyed said they expected to be dropped off at the facility by someone else and more than half considered themselves intermediate skaters or bikers.

The skate park will be a first in North Tampa and the second one built and operated by the city.

Work on the park, which will be part of the planned New Tampa Recreation Center, is expected to begin in another couple of months and be completed by fall of 2007.

Emily Nipps can be reached at 813 269-5313 or nipps@sptimes.com.

[Last modified September 2, 2006, 20:29:11]


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