Skate park re-opens with updates; plans for a completely new park in future

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County Parks and Recreation department has re-opened the skate park at 350 N.W. Sixth Avenue.

Working with skate park designers Spohn Ranch along with the county’s own maintenance department, they’ve installed all new skate lite wood surfaces on all the ramps and made some minor structural repairs.

Local skater Ryan Revels is happy to see the skate park back open. Photo by Richard Marion.

Okeechobee County Parks and Recreation community services director Albert Scoggins estimates that the project cost about $11,000 to $13,000.

“Basically what we’ve done is just replaced all the wood on the ramps,” explained Mr. Scoggins. “There’s been no changes to the layout of the park or the equipment there. One of the things since we’ve re-done it is we leave the skate park open at all times. Now there are no lights out there, so they can only skate from dawn to dusk, but it is unsupervised.”

“That’s been a trend the past several years when it comes to liability issues. Years ago when skate parks began to take off liability was a great concern. They would have to be staffed, waivers would have to be signed and there were attendants to supervise the kids using it. Over the past few years it’s been determined that having a skate park doesn’t create anymore liability for the entity that owns it than does a playground or a baseball field.”

The skate park is free to use and is open seven days a week from dawn till dusk.

Okeechobee resident Debby Huntley says her kids have used the skate park for nine years and they’re grateful the park is back open.

“I never really realized how nice and convenient it was until it was closed,” said Ms. Huntley. “I drove the kids to Ramp 48 in Fort Lauderdale, Fletcher Park in Lakeland, Willoughby skate park in Stuart, Jock Leighton Skatepark in Palm City, and Skate Park of Tampa so they could skate while our park was closed.”

Local skater Jared Sadler is hoping the park re-opening will help bring back together some of the skateboarding community in Okeechobee. He is encouraging skaters to come out to the park on national “Go Skateboarding Day” on June 21 to enjoy both the park and a great day of skating.

Mr. Sadler is also looking into eventually hosting skate competitions at the park. If you’d like to help organize, join, or support the competitions, you’re encouraged to call Jared at 863-801-5830.

The updates to the ramps come after the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners discussed performing a redesign and complete renovation of the park at their September meeting in 2017.

Ultimately, the county commissioners decided to repair the existing skate park. But Mr. Scoggins says the eventual redesign and renovation of the skate park are still on the horizon.

“As we go into our budget,” said Mr. Scoggins, “we’re looking at placing a skate park renovation into our capital improvement plan. We haven’t decided if that’ll be year two, three or five of the plan. But it will be in there for the upcoming budget. Once it’s in there it’ll be a question of what we want to build and how do we want to build it. I think we’ll do it the same way we did the wooden jungle, in that we’ll probably have a design day with a company where skaters as well as others could come out and help sketch out and discuss the features that are appealing to them. I think one of the nicer features of a skate park is a bowl, so I imagine the new park will have a bowl in there. There’s lots of options.”

“Once we do the renovation we’d like to make sure we give the community something that’s new, exciting and unique to Okeechobee, which could make it a destination for skate board enthusiasts in Florida.”

Altis Crowell grinds the rail at the Okeechobee skate park. Crowell has been skating in the Okeechobee skate park since it first opened and is happy with the new updates to park. Photo by Richard Marion.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment