A new skate park is taking priority in Holmes Beach.
While people might assume surfing is the top outdoor sport on a coastal island, skateboarding holds a special place in island culture.
But boarders need a place to hone their skills.
“Going to the skate park was one place where I could just be myself,” Jack Coleman, 20, an Anna Maria Island lifelong resident and skateboarder, said Dec. 31, 2018.
Coleman, along with several other members of the island skateboarding community, has been working with Pivot Custom Skate Parks lead designer Tito Porrata and city engineer Lynn Burnett on an updated skate park along Marina Drive in the 5900 block.
The proposed park will be alongside the city’s public works compound between city field and Marina Drive.
“Just to see Poratta’s design over the last month is very heartwarming, because I love it,” Coleman said.
The original skate park, which was built in 2003 and closed in 2017 for repairs, will reopen in 2019.
The budget for the redo, approved by the commission in 2018, will be $150,000.
The commission also agreed Dec. 11, 2018, to an option to add a bowl — used for tricks and similar to an empty in-ground pool — if the community can raise $100,000 by the summer.
Porrata, a professional skater since 1984, helped design the skate park at Riverwalk, a park in downtown Bradenton.
“Most of the municipal parks in Florida, I’ve designed and managed the construction,” Porrata said. “I call myself a translator between our skate culture and life.”
He said a new skate park would draw people from around the state, as well as locals.
Porrata said the life span of the park would be about 15 years, but could extend beyond that time if it is well maintained.
He said the city plans to use shrubbery to create a safety barrier between Marina Drive and the skate park, as the city continues a redesign of city field, the park and recreational complex bordered by Marina and Flotilla drives and 59th Street.
Burnett said an arborist working on the redesign of city field will meet with her and Porrata to ensure the skate park fits the plans for the field.
“We want to make sure we do the right kind of plants and the right kind of trees and have it dense enough that it can catch any skateboards that might be flying the wrong way,” Burnett said. “That will be incorporated as part of our overall landscape and the architectural design elements of the park.”
“I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the design, Commission Chair Jim Kihm said upon seeing the rendering of plans for the park at the Dec. 11 commission meeting. “I think you’ve given us something that very well integrates with the rest of the area.”
Mayor Judy Titsworth agreed.
“To me, the skate park is recognizing our local youth,” Titsworth said in an interview Dec. 31.
“It is a given that our visitors will enjoy it as well, it is just really important to me that we remember our youth when designing our park amenities. This is still, in my opinion, one of the best places in the country to raise a family and a skate park complements our beach community perfectly.”