Fearless Flyers Go Vertical

Redeveloping the northwest quadrant of Safety Harbor City Park in Pinellas County, Fla., to meet the needs of thrill-seeking skateboarders was no easy project.

A skater goes vertical on the wedge ramp

During the past four decades, skateboarders have been shocking crowds with extreme tricks that most people would not dream of doing.

Today, kids in the county–and across the country–want to show off extreme acrobatic stunts, ollies, rail slides, truck grinders and more. The challenge for the city and its design partners was to create a safe place where skaters of all levels could grow and perform.

“Why can’t we find a safe spot for skaters to ride?” Pinellas County Commissioner Neil Brickfield wondered. “When I saw that Gulfport converted basketball courts into a skate park and saw Dunedin’s new skate park, I felt that was the way to go.”

In 2003, the 6,000-square-foot skate park project received a major boost from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program, which provided an $180,000 grant to build the skate park–a 50-percent match to go toward construction costs.

“I’m delighted we got the money,” said former Safety Harbor Mayor Pam Corbino. “It’s exciting; the kids are waiting for it.”

Skateboarders enjoying the flow of the park

Designing For The Next Generation

Wade Trim–a national civil engineering, planning and landscape-architecture firm–worked with the city’s parks and engineering departments to prepare a three-phase master plan that included a safe, kid-friendly skate park, a boundless playground, a splash pad and a basketball court. The master plan paved the way for design, permitting and construction of the first two phases, beginning in 2005.

To help design a true community skate park, the city commission appointed a Skate Park Teen Task Force of more than 20 skateboarders. With an approved budget, the task force–led by the city’s Leisure Services Director Andrea Norwood–met weekly, sketched out a design, and made a model for presentation to the commission for approval. The group even developed park rules, policies and procedures.

The finished skate-park features provided by True Ride include 10 pieces of equipment designed for a range of skill levels:

• Half-pipe

• Command-center start box

• Wedge/pyramid

• Mini-pipe

• Three-quarter pipe.

Site-work preparation and construction were performed by R.A.M. Excavating Inc.

Other skate-park features include:

• A lighted picnic shelter

• A chilled water fountain

• Bike racks

• A pay phone

• Site lighting.

Minimizing Hazards

In 2007, the skate park opening was dedicated in the memory of Ian Tilmann, a boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being thrown from his skateboard while not wearing a safety helmet.

As designers, we understand that we cannot eliminate all danger at the skate park. Instead, we minimize hazards that skaters cannot anticipate.

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