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Skateboarders, rejoice: A park is in the pipeline

Indian Rocks will add a $200,000 park, great news to four teenagers who lobbied for one and who said they are considered a nuisance everywhere else.

By ANDREW MEACHAM

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 28, 2001


INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- Goodbye, extra shuffleboard courts. Hello, skate park.

In a move that may reflect changing demographics on the beaches, the City Commission has approved a skate park across from City Hall in Kolb Park.

The course will feature five obstacles of "intermediate difficulty," which city officials hope will replace local banks and post offices as hangouts for young people.

The $200,000 project includes a $63,000 state grant, as well as $40,000 in city funding already set aside to improve lighting on basketball and tennis courts.

The 9,500-square-foot skate park will sit east of Campalong Field, by Bay Palm Boulevard, the current site for racquetball. Making room for a new racquetball court will mean demolishing three of the five shuffleboard courts.

City Manager Tom Brobeil said two courts should be enough to handle the shuffleboard traffic, which he said has dropped noticeably the past 10 years.

Four teens who had helped conceive and implement the plan welcomed the news.

"Every place we go, we get kicked out," said Zack Hurtz, 13.

Pals Matt Hirschler, 15, David Musgrove, 14, and Adam Corn, 13, all Indian Rocks Beach residents, nodded in agreement. The youths showed up to support the skate park, an idea initiated two years ago by Hirschler, now a sophomore at Largo High School.

The teens talked to adults at Indian Rocks Beach 2000, a civic group, and the city. They later met with architects from the Bacon Group to suggest a design.

After the unanimous vote, Mayor Bob DiNicola asked Hirschler and his friends not to skateboard at banks, post offices and other places where they might be considered a nuisance.

Outside the meeting, the youths told stories of being rousted by police and evicted from storefronts and other public places. The park, they said, will make it easier to pursue a dream of competing in skateboard competitions or even going professional.

"A lot of us want skateboarding to be our whole lives," Hirschler said.

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