When Tanner Wilson, 11, goes back to school at Giunta Middle School, it's a good bet, if asked, that he'll write about the Brandon Skate Park at Providence Road East as the place he spent his summer vacation.
"He's here every day from the time it opens to the time it closes," said his mother, Teresa Wilson. "This is fantastic that Hillsborough County Parks [Recreation and Conservation Department) built this park here, and the fact that it's free for the summer is even better."
To celebrate the park’s grand opening, skating is free throughout the summer. As to when a fee will be instituted, that has yet to be decided, said Sam Haslet, program specialist at the 11,000- square-foot park operated by the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department at Providence Park East, just north of the Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence Road intersection.
The park opened April 21 and celebrated its formal grand opening May 12, at which time Haslet said the park topped 1,000 waivers. All skaters must wear helmets and complete a waiver, signed by a parent if they are under age 18.
In an interview July 14, before the start of the first annual Brandon Skate Park Band Jam/Skate Jam, Haslet said the number of waivers had topped 1,350.
- Haslet talked about the park's first major event in . Brandon Patch coverage of the event included
Why interest in the park s growing is apparent in the observations of skaters who made their way to the park for the July 14 jam.
"It's a great park," said Peter Henchey, 21, as he took a break from skating, standing with his mother, his mother-in-law and his 3-month-old son, Stephen. "It opens up skateboarding to a lot of people, it built the local scene for it. It gives a lot of people the opportunity to skateboard."
His son wore a shirt that said, "Shred the gnar," giving testament to a vocabulary that has built up around the sport. "To skateboard in a gnarly fashion" means to skateboard "in a way that is very impressive," Henchey said. "If you're really good at tricks, it's considered gnarly."
In a word, then, the skaters at the Brandon Skate Park Band Jam/Skate Jam on July 14 were, indeed, gnarly. The event featured live bands and skate competitions in three age categories, showcasing a park that was built for the skateboarding enthusiast at all levels, from beginnger to advanced.
"The park has a lot of street elements, stair sets handrails and ledges, and a lot of 'vert' elements, a bowl and quater-pipes," Henchley said. "The possibilities are pretty much endless."
Malachi Macera, 18, graduated this year from the Bowers Whitley Career Center in Tampa.
"I love this park," he said. "I thought it was going to be like every other recreation park but it's so much better. And the fact that it's free until the end of the summer is awesome."
Jay Meyre, 27, is the chief executive officer at Square One Skateboards in Clearwater, who started skateboarding at age 11. Kyle Childers is with the Skate Shop and School in Clearwater, saying of Meyre that "he makes the boards we ride and sell."
Both men were on hand in Brandon to help judge the competition.
"I didn't skate until six years ago," Childers said. "I was selling cars across the street from a skate park and one day I dropped in."
As for Meyre, he said he "always had a dream" to make skateboarding his livelihood.
As for the Brandon Skate Park, Childers said he gives it "a five out of five" for both its elements and its timing, noting that skateboarding "has a big following."
"I second Kyle's statement on the park," Meyre added. "It's got a little bit of everything and it's free for the summer."
Joe Storm, 21, helped build the park with Team Pain.
"This park is amazing," he said, taking a break from performing tricks in the bowl July 14. "I was lucky enough to be one of the people who helped build it. It's the best and the biggest in the west side of Florida."
As for the bowl?
"It's perfectly smooth and there's not a bump in it," Storm said. "It's definitely one of our favorite [parks] right now."
Summer hours for the Brandon Skate Park are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. Music plays and the lights are on at night, which allows for skating in cooler temperatures.
To celebrate the park’s grand opening, skating is free throughout the summer. As to when a fee will be instituted, that has yet to be decided, Haslet said.
All skaters are required to wear helmets. Skaters under age ten must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Skaters under age 12 must skate with full pads. There are a limited number of helmets and knee and elbow pads available to borrow, Haslet said.
The Apollo Beach Skate Park is set to open this summer. A public information meeting for a park in Northwest Hillsborough County was held July 17. Hillsborough County has a reciprocal agreement with the City of Tampa. Annual passes will be honored at all Hillsborough County and City of Tampa skate parks.
From an earlier report:
The 11,000-square-foot Brandon Skate Park was funded with impact fees and general revenue dollars. Team Pain, a company owned and operated by skaters that for 30 years has been creating custom skate parks for communities and skateboarders worldwide, worked under Hennessy Construction Services Corp. as a member of the design, permitting and construction team.
The Brandon Skate Park is the first skate park built with taxpayers' dollars.
According to county officials, the park cost $499,501 and is best described, according to a Brandon Patch interview with Team Pain foreman Chris Berry in January, as a "street course," featuring a bowl, "like a swimming pool, 9 feet, 6 inches deep."
The Brandon Skate Park is at 5720 Providence Road, in the Greater Brandon community of Riverview.
Included in the course are radius ramps, stairs, rails, ledges, banks and pool coping, which is the term used to identify the stone, or in this case, concrete material used to cap the bowl shell wall.
Team Pain has built skate parks throughout Florida, including in Tampa, New Tampa, Sarasota, Bradenton and the soon-to-open park in Apollo Beach.
Brandon Skate Park Features:
- An intermediate/professional bowl with rounded walls, two hips and two general depths. The shallow end is 6 feet deep and just under-vert; the deep end is more than 9 feet deep, with 1.5 feet of vert. The entire bowl has pool coping and tile.
- Consists of two main levels that split the park into two sections.
- The lower section has a few street-plaza elements, including a granite bench set at an angle; curved ledges; a cone-pole jam; a manual pad; a small, but long, set of four stairs; a brick-stamped bank with a flat bar on top; and a handrail and flat rail. The area also sports a very wide quarter-pipe, with steel coping, including a 12-foot pool coping extension; a smaller pyramid with a bull-nose flat rail; and a steep bank and hip.
- The lower section is connected to the upper section with a series of banks, including a step-up that links to an escalating transition hip.
- Six-foot corner quarter-pipe leading to a long and low A-shaped quarter-pipe, ending at a series of moguls located throughout.
- A third level takes skaters to the bowl, an area also connected with quarter-pipes and more moguls, ranging in height from 2.5 to 5 feet.