Jul 29, 2014
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Skateboard Park Plan Moves Closer To Reality

The county will accept public comment for the next 30 days before making a final decision about the location of the skateboard park.

Skateboard Park Plan Moves Closer To Reality


Northdale area residents didn't want it. Neither did people living in the Waters Avenue and Sheldon Road community. Nor were those in the Ehrlich Road area excited about a Northwest Skateboard Park coming to their neighborhood.

But if Tuesday night's meeting at Jackson Springs Recreation Center was any indication, the Town 'N Country community would welcome a skateboard park.

More than 75 people attended the meeting held by Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation department. The purpose was to determine if Town 'N Country residents want a 10,000 square foot skateboard park built at 8620 Jackson Springs Road.

"We've looked at a lot of locations. Everyone had a plus, everyone had a minus," said Mark Thornton, director of Hillsborough County's Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department. 

Thornton pointed out that the proposed $600,000 skateboard park has already been funded through park impact fees. Similar parks have already been constructed in Brandon and Apollo Beach. But a suitable location has yet to be found in the Northwest portion of the county.

The Jackson Springs location is attractive to the county because of the recreation center that is already on site, in addition to basketball courts. Both are frequented by area teens.

"We've looked at just about every spot but we're here because of what's going on with this location and these teens," Thornton said.

Of the dozen or so speakers at Tuesday night's meeting the majority were in favor of building the skateboard park.

"I've seen these youth grow up at the park. If they're involved in something positive like skateboarding they would not be involved with graffiti," said Roxanne Dresda, a parent and Town 'N Country resident. "It's important we give them that opportunity."

Richard Silkworth, vice president of the Town 'N Country Civic Association, voiced his support for the park as well.

"I'm all for this," he said cautioning county officials to ensure the size of the park would be large enough for all the teens who may want to use it.

But everyone wasn't in support of the skate park. Stanley Krick who has lived in Town 'N Country for more than 45 years said he did not want to see the skateboard park at the Jackson Springs location.

"I'm concerned about graffiti we see it out here all the time," Krick said before the crowd. "You will be sued when somebody gets hurt."

Thornton referred to the already opened to explain how the Town 'N Country location would operate.

The park would have a staffed controlled entrance. All skaters are required to wear helmets. Skaters 18 and under must have their parents sign waiver releases.

"The central point is very important to make sure everyone is wearing a helmet," Thornton said. "It also allows us to control everything that goes on with the park."

Constructing the park at Jackson Springs would mean some switching around. The park would be constructed northeast of the existing recreation center. The existing parking area would be moved to where the basketball courts are currently. And the basketball courts would be reconstructed elsewhere on the property.

The Brandon and Apollo Beach skateboard parks have included public art in their construction, Thornton said. Town 'N Country teens would have input on how they'd like to use public art in their park.

"Kid's buy-in and help us take care of it," Thornton said.

Michelle Taylor, the parent of a skateboarder, was one of the last to speak at Tuesday's meeting. She asked all the skateboarders in the room to stand up. More than 20 people rose.

"It helps to identify that boarders cross all socio-economic, racial and ethnic boarders," she said. "The truth is if we don't give the kids something to do they will find something to do and it's not always what you'd want them to do."

County officials will continue to take public input for the next two weeks on the Town 'N Country skateboard park plan by e-mail and phone: 813-635-3500.

The final decision would come in about 30 days, Thornton said. If approved, the park could be completed by June 2013.


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