NORTH TAMPA — Skaters looking to get in a little board time in Town 'N Country will have to travel farther north.
That's because county officials have moved the proposed site for a skate park after heavy opposition by residents in a neighboring community.
The skate park had been slated for an undeveloped piece of land across from the Upper Tampa Bay YMCA off Waters Avenue. The park would have been adjacent to the southern portion of Fountainview Estates, a 546-unit mobile home park for seniors near the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.
Now officials are considering a parcel of green space next to the fire station, which is at 5209 Ehrlich Road. A public meeting will be held on June 8 to discuss the latest proposal.
The new location could mean a higher price tag or a smaller park, said John Brill, a parks department spokesman. Original plans called for a 10,000-square-foot skate park featuring humps and bumps, a smooth concrete bowl and rails. The park was budgeted to cost about $500,000. But the Ehrlich Road location would require that restrooms and parking space be built, unlike the trail location which already had those amenities.
"There's a possibility that we'd have to find some other money or the park could be a little smaller than the original intent because of the infrastructure not being there," Brill said.
In early May, after residents of Fountainview Estates learned of the proposed Waters Avenue site, they sounded off during a community meeting with the county's parks and recreation staff and with County Commissioner Ken Hagan. The meeting, held at the neighborhood's clubhouse, drew more than 100 people.
"It's going to be open seven days a week … as late as 11 p.m. in the evening," resident Frank Fucci, 60, said in a recent interview. "With something like that you're going to have noise, lighting issues and something within 75-feet of residences. There's no way they could effectively control the noise and light pollution."
The community also petitioned the County Commission with more than 300 signatures of opponents to that site.
"Anytime we do a site location we always want to be a good neighbor," Brill said. "We hate to build something where we're not wanted."
The new proposal, next to a fire station, does have its perks.
"If someone gets hurt, EMS is right next door," Brill said.
Carlton Lewis, a community activist in Town 'N Country, called the move of the skate park location a missed opportunity.
"Instead of having them in your shopping malls and driveways, they (skaters) would have congregated there," Lewis said. "Plus this park is going to be supervised. I felt it was a win-win for us all around."
The county has two other skate parks planned for sites in Apollo Beach and Brandon.
Nicole Hutcheson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813)226-3405.