Alex Gomez and Kevin Carrillo skateboard anywhere they can in Gainesville, but it’s in and around the downtown square that they love best because of the cool features it offers, such as curbs, ledges and stairs.
“When you land something it just gives you the best feeling,” Gomez said.
But the Gainesville High freshmen, along with other skater kids in the area, will soon get their wish: a real-deal skate park with drops, rails, bowls and other elements that define both park and street-style skating.
Gainesville Parks and Recreation plans to build a skate park at the intersection of Pine and High streets beginning in July 2019, and dozens of residents, including Carrillo and Gomez, provided input about how they’d like to see the park designed at a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Participants were given initial renderings of a skate park and asked to draw their own designs or circle the features that they wanted most to see developed.
Lose Design in Lawrenceville will be designing the facility based on feedback from Wednesday’s meeting. Wally Hollyday, a California-based skate park designer, will seek input from local skaters and create a design that Lose Design can use for construction.
The 20,000-square-foot park might include stairs, ledges, quarter pipes and ramps, but it’s not just about the features and elements.
“Flow is really important in the skate park,” Hollyday said. “It’s always, more than anything, about flow and not just the elements.”
Jasen Spinks, a teacher at Sardis Enrichment School in Hall County, spearheaded a petition that garnered about 1,700 signatures from local residents supporting the construction of a skateboard park.
Michael Graham, deputy director of Gainesville Parks and Recreation, said the petition drive was a huge factor pushing local government to commit to a skate park.
“Those types of things work,” he said. “That’s why you’re here tonight.”
Spinks, who has skated the Gainesville streets for the last 31 years, said there have been attempts for years to get a local skate park built, but they never materialized for whatever reason.
But as skating grows in popularity (it had kind of an outlaw reputation when it first gained national attention in the 1980s, Spinks said) so too has the demand for a local park.
Now that the skate wheels are in motion, so to speak, Spinks couldn’t be happier.
He even incorporates skating into some science curriculum while teaching by showing students how the sport can illustrate Newton’s laws of motion.
“This is a dream come true,” Spinks said.