BRADENTON -- Oversized T-shirts, baggy pants, and phrases like “Getting stoked” and “Awesome!” filled Bradenton City Hall of Wednesday evening as skateboarders united with city officials to see Team Pain’s preliminary designs for the Riverwalk Skate Park.
“This isn’t just a skate park,” Tito Porrata, the Orlando company’s design and sales guru, said before the meeting.
“It doesn’t stop there.”
Porrata then introduced a three-dimensional computer-generated rendition of the $290,000 park, most of which will be located just east of DeSoto Bridge.
A portion of the park will also extend beneath and just to the west of the bridge. Key features Porrata introduced Wednesday include a multi-level “clover bowl” on the eastern end, “plenty of stairs and rails,” and a “complex street plaza.”
Overall, Porrata said, Team Pain’s goal is to build a park that suits experienced skaters like the dozen that turned out for the meeting, “the newbie that’s just learning to drop in” and “the unborn skater.”
The skateboarders who participated in the discussion ranged in age from 10 to older than 40; several offered their own version of, “It’s about time.”
“I think it’s a good thing to let us have input,” said Bradenton resident Jeremy Leyva. “We kind of deserve it after 10 years of being driven out of parts of downtown.”
Even 10-year-old Jesse Heidenthal, a Myakka City resident who attended Wednesday’s meeting with his mother Stefani, has outgrown most of the existing area parks.
Stefani Heidenthal helped convince Myakka City to build a small skate park years ago. But because her son has progressed so far in his skills, she makes the 50-minute drive to Sarasota’s Payne Skate Park every few weeks.
With a high-quality park in Bradenton, Heidenthal said, she’ll need to travel only about 20 minutes, and her son will be able to continue honing his skills in skateboarding, which she said have helped him learn determination and focus.
“He pushes himself,” she said. “He tries different things. And he works on things for a really long time until he gets them.”
One of the most important qualities of the Riverwalk Skate Park, said skateboard community leader Geza Darrah, is that it will be largely overseen by the skateboarders themselves.
“Bradenton has taken a step forward to get a different skate park model operating that is self-managed,” Darrah said.
The city plans to keep the park open for free public use, without a fence, and hopes to add nearby amenities such as shady areas, charcoal grills and gazebos where families can relax while their kids enjoy the park, said Dale Weidemiller, Riverwalk project manager.
The park will be adorned with palm trees and other Florida-friendly landscaping. It might even be open overnight, Weidemiller said, and is likely to be equipped with lights that can be controlled by users with a “twister timer.”
Porrata encouraged skateboarders to “spread the word: take care of your park.”
Team Pain has built 18 parks throughout Florida, including the parks in Sarasota, North Port and Englewood, Porrata said. Its next step for the Riverwalk Skate Park is to unite the input gathered Wednesday from skateboarders, “tweak” the preliminary design, and then wait for general contractor NDC Construction to complete its preparation of the site.
Once the skate park’s construction begins, Porrata said, Team Pain will likely complete it within three months.
The project is part of the $6.2 million Riverwalk project, which also features sand volleyball courts, an enlarged amphitheater, a 1.5-mile waterfront walk and public art.