City rolling on skate park
"I think it'll be a good boost," said Teddy Nicholson, a Port Aransas surf shop co-owner and member of a design team working on the park concept. "I think the kids who skate will skate more (after the improvements), and people who don't skate so much anymore will skate more."
The City of Port Aransas is making moves that would roughly quadruple the size of its pocket skate park, establishing new features including swimming pool-like concrete bowls and other skater favorites in a section of Port Aransas
' Community Park.
The current skate area is a flat, 2,025- square-foot concrete slab adjacent to an in-line hockey rink. The slab has four quarter-pipe wooden ramps four feet high and two ramps that are two feet high.
A group of local citizens called Port Aransas Skate Park has been working for several years to create skating opportunities for skaters in town. Members of that group are responsible for providing the wooden ramps at the pocket park.
Skaters say they're glad to have the pocket park. But they wish it had more to offer.
"It's bland," said Matt Barlett, a 16- year-old Port Aransas boy who used to skate the park a lot before it got too boring. "It's better than what it used to be. But everyone gets used to it, and it's really small. It really limits what you can do there."
Dave Parsons, planning and projects manager for the City of Port Aransas, has drawn up a preliminary design for the new skate area. It's not a design, however, that is set in stone, so to speak.
Parsons said he created the design simply to give professional skateboard design firms something to give the firms an idea of the kind of scale city leaders are envisioning for the park.
Parsons' design would mean about 8,000 square feet of concrete, including two kidney-shaped concrete bowls ranging from two and a half to eight feet deep. The design also includes a broad, largely flat area with ramps, metal rails, concrete walls known to skaters as "hubbas" and step-ramp combinations known as "euros."
City staff has put together a design team of Port Aransas folks to sort through various skate park design firms' proposals for what they could build for Port Aransas, based on the preliminary design put together by Parsons.
The team is expected to act this week to pick a firm to create the design.
The design team is made up of Ted Nicholson, co-owner of the Board House, a Port Aransas surf shop that also deals in skateboards; Nicholson's son, Teddy, co-owner of the surf shop; Jeff Comstock, co-owner of Port Enterprises, a construction firm; and skaters Nick Jones and Carson Einkauf.
Teddy Nicholson said the team has consulted with various skaters around town, including middle school-age kids.
Still more consultations with skaters are expected. The selected design firm will send one or more representatives to Port Aransas to hold at least one community outreach meeting with island skaters and other interested folks to get more ideas for how the park should look. The meetings have not yet been scheduled.
Eventually, a final design will be shown to the city Parks and Recreation Board, and the project then will go out for construction bids. The project could be built over a two-month period as soon as this fall, Parsons said.
To build the park, the city is applying for a $75,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Parsons said.
If the city wins the grant, the city would match it with another $75,000. The money would come from the Recreational Development Corporation (RDC), an entity that receives a half-cent sales tax levied at Port Aransas businesses.
RDC members are Francis Stokes, Sharon Grumbles, James Ashley and city council members Rick Pratt, Keith McMullin and Glenda Balentine.
Also funding the project, Parsons said, would be an additional sum of about $10,000 from park dedication fees, which the city began charging developers of residential developments in February.
The RDC already has budgeted an additional $20,000 for design of the park.
As envisioned, the park would be a two-phase project. If the city gets the grant, both phases would be built at once, Parsons said.
If the city doesn't get the grant, the city will proceed only with Phase One, for the time being, Parsons said. Under that scenario, the RDC still would spend $20,000 on design, and city staff will ask the RDC to set aside an additional $125,000 for construction when the body meets in June, Parsons said. The $10,000 from park dedication fees also would be spent on Phase One.
Phase Two would be built later, with funding coming from sources that have not yet been determined, Parsons said.