LAND O'LAKES — They've gotten something out of nothing.
The Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex opened its brand spanking new skate park Friday — a $91,000, 9,568 square-foot addition, complete with ramps, grind rails and even picnic tables for local skaters to perform as many tricks and kicks their hearts desire.
Before, the skaters were littered around the concessions stands at the baseball and soccer fields or in the parking lot. Skaters had no designated spot.
Now they have a place to skate free of reprimand.
"It's going to give these kids something different to do," parks and recreation manager Brian Taylor said. "If you go around to any of our parks in the county, they're always looking for a place to skate around — on the library entrance or on a picnic table — so this gives them a place that has better amenities and they're allowed to be skating all over."
The skate park has been in the works for more than two years, as part of the massive expansion of the recreation complex. With the help of the Central Pasco Sports Coalition, Taylor and company held forums with local youngsters to see what they would like in a skate park.
"They really wanted grind rails," Taylor said. "They love doing those."
On Friday afternoon, skaters were lined up — helmets and boards in tow — before the park even officially opened. Skaters have to sign a waiver before entering.
No doubt most were anxious to try out the new digs.
"It's a solid park and it will be somewhere for us to go," said skater Jake Bachman, 13. "I mean, it beats having to make something to jump or skate on."
This is the first county-run skate park. The cities of Zephyrhills and New Port Richey also have them. The next closest is Stewy's Skate Park in Spring Hill.
"It's nice, and it's good enough considering the size of the concrete," said Nathan Holt, 13. "I can see a lot of kids waiting to get in and use it.
"I know I'm going to try to come here as much as I can."
Long-time skater Bill Ellis, who has been skating at the complex since long before the expansion, was not easily impressed, but that probably won't keep him home.
"After keeping us waiting for several years they could've done a better job," said Ellis, 19. "The ramps aren't great, but it's not awful.
"I'll definitely be here a lot, for sure."
As for others, a larger skate park would have been nice, but the skaters are still grateful for something instead of nothing.
"It's good, but small," Ryan O'Rourke, 10, said. "It seems like an amateur park, but it is better than what we had before. No park."
Mike Camunas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 544-1771.