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What local skaters are saying about Gainesville Skate Park
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Christopher Ruiz grinds an obstacle Oct. 14, 2020, at the Gainesville Skate Park. - photo by Thomas Hartwell
The new Gainesville Skate Park is a place for people to gather, no matter what kind of wheels they’re riding. 

“It’s bringing everybody together from bikers, to scooters and skateboarders,” said skater Cristopher Ruiz on Wednesday while visiting the park, which features several obstacles and bowls.  

The park opened in June just off the midtown greenway at the intersection of High and Pine streets. Officials will be cutting a ribbon there at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. 

Kate Mattison, director of Gainesville Parks and Recreation, said there are often at least 10 people at the skate park. 

Ruiz said he enjoys the wide range of what the park has to offer, including rails, ramps and other obstacles, despite it being small. 

Many of the parkgoers are teenagers, but parents and children also come to ride together. 

Zach Whitsel brought his two young sons, Holton, 3, and Hudson, 7, to get their energy out Wednesday and enjoy something he learned from a young age. Whitsel rode his BMX bike down the many obstacles in the park and watched his two boys on their bike and scooter ride down ledges and ramps.  

“We come out here about three times a week,” Whitsel said. “I had really gotten out of all this kind of stuff, but when my kids got into it, I picked it back up.” 

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Holton Whitsel, 3, prepares to roll his bike down a slope at the Gainesville Skatepark on Oct. 14, 2020. - photo by Thomas Hartwell

Blake Holder, 22, said the park is much safer than the street skating many did before the park was built. 

Holder lives in Jefferson but visits the park every weekend to skate. Gabrielle Perez visits the park from his home in Commerce every day, he said.  

“There’s been so many people coming out from all types of areas,” Perez said. “From like four hours away and stuff, and they come all the time. It’s awesome.” 

New additions are also coming to the park. A large art installation at the entrance is being painted by Gainesville artist Fox Gradin. She had been working with the city as one of the early advocates for building the park and came up with the concept for the installation. It includes a giant skateboard dug into a piece of concrete that gives it the illusion of it having crash-landed from outer space.  

“I wanted definitely something for the Gainesville Skate Park since I grew up here,” Gradin said while painting Wednesday. “I wanted something different from every other park that I’ve ever been to or seen.” 

The parks department has also been trying to finalize plans to add a permanent stand with tools for people to be able to fix their boards and bikes at the park.  

Gainesville Skate Park 

When: Open daily 7 a.m. to dark 

Where: 636 SW High St., Gainesville 

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Fox Gradin, an artist commissioned by the city of Gainesville, works on a piece of art at the entrance to the Gainesville Skate Park on Oct. 14, 2020. - photo by Thomas Hartwell
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Fox Gradin, an artist commissioned by the city of Gainesville, works Oct. 14, 2020, on a piece of art at the entrance to the Gainesville Skate Park. - photo by Thomas Hartwell
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