Skatepark open and ready for action
Beaumont has a new skate park, and skateboarders and wheeled daredevils of all ages are already putting the park to good use.
At the park’s opening Saturday, Aug. 17, city officials and at least 100 skaters, BMX riders and inline r o l l e r b l a d e r s gathered to help christen the park.
“Anybody that says Beaumont doesn’t have it going on doesn’t know what the heck they’re talking about,” said Mayor Becky Ames. “There’s so much to do here for our children, and we’ll continue to make sure that happens for all of you.”
But building the park wasn’t easy.
City Manager Kyle Hayes said the city of Beaumont had to secure grant funding and a specialized builder, SPA Skateparks of Austin, to build the park. Even with grant funding, the city still needed money to build a decent park.
“We were trying to secure funds and then I received an e-mail one day from a gentleman who said, ‘If you can get this thing done, I’ll contribute x amount,’ which was a sizable amount,” Hayes said.
According to Community Development Director Chris Boone, federal grant funding paid for about $330,000, meaning the anonymous donor could have written the city a check for some $100,000.
“That really was the catalyst in moving it forward,” Hayes said.
Freddy Fore, or “Fast Freddy” as he is affectionately known in Beaumont’s skateboarder circles, owns a skate shop in Nederland and was at Saturday’s grand opening. Fore gave away numerous decks (skateboards with no wheels) and a complete skateb o a r d to one lucky youngster. He said Beaumont was overdue for a skate park.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting for a long, long time,” Fore said. “I got boys that quit skating because they get run off everywhere else.”
Fore went on to say the park has one downside: the park lacks lighting at night in the park’s most-used area.
“They only got one light, but other than that it’s awesome,” he said.
Justin O’neil is a local skateboarder who helped the city design the park. He said original plans incorporated a bowl, but that plan was eventually scrapped and obstacles with broader street skate appeal were installed.
“Whenever someone builds a skate park, the key word is ‘flow.’ It’s gotta have good flow,” O’neil said. “It’s gotta go smoothly. Ya know, you do a trick, come back down and you gotta have enough speed for the next obstacle.”
Hayes said the park’s appeal to out-of-towners is a plus for downtown Beaumont.
“To have these young people around, whether they’re getting dropped off or they have their own transportation, ya know, they’ll go eat at some of the restaurants around here, spend money,” Hayes said. “It’s just great to have the synergy with the Events Centre and the new Rotary playground. We’re only two blocks from Crocket Street, so it all ties in nicely to downtown.”
Previously, the nearest skate park for Southeast Texans was Houston or Lake Charles, but no longer, Fore said.
“Things like this right here,” Fore said. “It needs to be here, not Lake Charles.”