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Friday, May 24, 2024

A new skate park was intended to open today in Northeast Gainesville - but local skateboarders couldn't wait that long.

"To be honest with you, they're skating on it already," said Patrick Byrne, capital projects manager for the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

But that's all right, Byrne said. The park, at the city's Northeast Complex at 1028 NE 14th St., just needs a few finishing touches like sodding, landscaping and a rules sign.

"Other than that, all the amenities are in, and the kids are using it," he said.

Byrne said the new park's features include a grind box, quarter pipe, half pipe, corner hip and grind rail.

The park is just one way the city has been good to its skateboarders recently.

A skate park at Westside Park, on the corner of Northwest 34th Street and Northwest 8th Avenue, recently had all its old wooden ramps replaced. The city also has plans to construct a concrete skate bowl by next fall at Possum Creek Park on Northwest 53rd Avenue.

The renovations, skate bowl and new skate park are being paid for out of city capital funds designated long ago for that purpose, Byrne said, and are unaffected by city budget cuts.

Matt Cala, a SFCC student and competitive skateboarder, tried out the new park Thursday with his friend, Koki Loaiza, 20.

"I live closer to the other one, but if there's a good park anywhere near Gainesville, we'll go skate it," Cala said.

The new park was small, he said, and both he and Loaiza said the equipment was manufactured.

But the park has a poured concrete ground, which Cala and Loaiza said was better than Westside's blacktop.

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Byrne said he hopes skateboarders take a sense of ownership over the parks and remember not to litter or graffiti.

"People from the public are more than welcome to use it," he said. "We hope they use it."

Cala said he thought they would.

"When I started skateboarding, it was so not cool," he said. "Now it's totally mainstream."

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