TOWN 'N COUNTRY — Skateboarders in northwest Hillsborough soon may have a location to glide and swerve on the concrete. County officials plan to meet this week to discuss building a third skateboard park.
The proposed facility would be at the Jackson Springs Recreation Center, on the northwest side of the existing gymnasium building. It calls for a skateboard park of up to 11,000 square feet and a new multipurpose court. Parking at the recreation center would be relocated.
"This will be a wonderful addition to the facility and community out there," said Mark Thornton, Hillsborough County's director of Parks, Recreation and Conservation.
The skate park could cost up to $600,000, with the funds coming from parks and recreation impact fees. A new skate park in the area has been in the county's Capital Improvement Plan for several years, said Shorty Robbins, the county's recreation service manager.
"This is the only one for the northwest area," Robbins said. "We've been looking for a location for several years. It looks like the stars are aligned for Jackson Springs. We have the space and Jackson Springs has been identified as a teen center where we only do teen and young adult programming."
If the Jackson Springs site is agreed upon, construction would begin immediately and would take six to eight months to complete, Thornton said.
Other locations for a northwest Hillsborough County skateboard park have been recommended in the past several years but faced strong opposition from neighboring residents. In 2010, a park was planned to be built across from the Upper Tampa Bay YMCA off Waters Avenue and adjacent to the southern portion of Fountainview Estates. But residents of the 546-unit mobile home park for seniors caused a stir with 300 people signing a petition in opposition. The plan was abandoned.
The county also considered a spot next to a fire station at 5209 Ehrlich Road, but that idea fizzled, too.
"Wherever we put it, we don't want to start with a negative situation," Thornton said. This would be the third skateboard park built by the county. Parks are located in Brandon and Apollo Beach.
Skateboarders will have the opportunity to have their say about how the park will look.
"The kids will be involved with the actual design of the facility," Thornton said.
"We don't know what's going to be there but if you look at the other parks, they are two very distinct styles of skate parks. It's what the kids wanted and they were involved from the very beginning. It's a great process for the kids to be involved from the beginning."
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.