Regulars at the Sul Ross Park skate course will have to practice their skateboard moves elsewhere as the city of Waco begins a $2.1 million redevelopment of the park.
The city Tuesday will close the course and prepare to replace the the metal ramps with more durable concrete ramps, in-ground bowls, rails and stairs. The asphalt at the current site has deteriorated, and skaters have advocated for a bigger course.
The redevelopment also will include green space, restrooms, two tennis courts and a basketball court at the former Charlie McCleary Tennis Center on Jefferson Avenue. The project should take about a year, parks officials said.
The project, funded in part with a $1.7 million state grant, has been in the planning stages since early 2009, but it has been delayed as the city has acquired additional land nearby and remediated an old gas station site, parks and recreation director Rusty Black said.
He said Waco City Council is set to award a contract for construction later this month, and Barsh Construction of Waco is the lowest bidder. Black said the city’s plans for a playground and pavilion at the site will have to be rolled into a future phase because of funding constraints.
Black said the skate course will offer facilities for every level of skater, from beginner to pro. He said it will increase local interest in the sport, which got a boost when the current park opened in 2007.
“It will not only promote the sport of skating, but it could be something that draws tourism here,” he said.
The city designed the skate park in conjunction with a local nonprofit skating group called Skate254.
Skate254 co-founder and president Blake Yowell said the closure of the skate park will be hard in the short term.
“It’s going to be back to the streets for another year,” he said. “When you have a park atmosphere, it gives you somewhere to meet up. . . . It’s going to be tough for (local skaters) to transition.”
But he said the cracks in the asphalt already have caused attendance at the park to decline, and the improvements will be worth the wait.
“It’s going to boom, no doubt about it, once we get a true concrete park,” he said.
Yowell said he expects to see state and regional skating events at the refurbished park.