The skatepark that is being built at the corner of Pine and High streets is projected to open mid-April — if the rain slows down.
The core skatepark elements are complete, the bowls and ramps and rails, and all that’s left are the exterior pieces such as the sidewalk, parking lot and trash cans, according to Kate Mattison, director of Gainesville Parks and Recreation.
The park was designed by Wally Hollyday, owner of California-based Wally Hollyday Skateparks. He and his crew used a community design process and held meetings to hear what local skaters wanted in their new park.
“Hollyday did the original loose concepts. We held public meetings where Wally Hollyday was present and asked local skaters what they wanted in their skatepark. He took those suggestions and turned them into conceptual designs and then we turned those designs into engineered construction plans,” said Whit Alexander, executive vice president for Lose & Associates architecture.
The design process started in late 2018 and by October 2019, construction was well underway.
Since the beginning of the construction, the weather has been a huge obstacle with getting the park finished.
“We had to fight with the rain, but we got kind of lucky and it gave us enough dry days so that we could keep control of it, keep working and get done,” Hollyday said. “I was talking to the city constantly throughout the project like, ‘Is there going to be a point if it keeps raining that we finish it in the spring?’ and they were like, ‘We want to try to get it open as soon as we can,’ so we kept pushing through, and it worked out.”
Hollyday and his crew finished the construction of the core park in February, but because of weather the city has not been able to add the finishing touches.
The contractors have been doing what they can, when they can, but recent weather hasn’t afforded many opportunities, according to Mattison.
“The progress had been absolutely fantastic until all this rain started. We were on track and moving right along. We had originally hoped for a March opening of the skate park, but then the aggressive amount of rain we've had over the last few weeks, we’ve been pushed back and are hoping for April now,” Mattison said.
Once the park opens, the city plans to hold a public celebration.
The skatepark isn’t just for one age group or demographic, according to Mattison. During the focus groups in 2018, there were hundreds of people with varying ages and professions that were petitioning for the skatepark to be built.
“The amount of people who were originally involved in trying to get this project pushed forward is really, really impressive. People are so excited and it’s going to be such a great amenity for all of the skaters in the community and for all of the people who want to try it out but have never done it before. It’s for more than just one group of people and I think it’s going to be really cool,” Mattison said.
The location of the skatepark is what is exciting for a lot of people. It is right off of the Midtown Greenway.
“Anything new we get in the downtown area is going to drive more people to use the greenway, to get more people out in the parks and that’s really what we want and what we’re excited about,” Mattison said.