Public Skate Park Update

With nearby cities embracing and celebrating the skateboarding community by constructing new concrete in-ground skate parks, it feels like Denton is several steps behind the curve, or in this case the half pipe. Roanoke built installations that are inspired by the city’s thriving restaurant scene, The Edge in Allen has claimed the title of the largest skatepark in Texas, and Scion Skate Park in Lewisville appeals to all ages and skill levels whether you’re on a board, skates, scooter, or bike. Did you even know Denton had a skate park? .

Located more than a 10-minute drive from the square, that’s with no traffic and stop lights in your favor, the city-owned Denton Skate Park is easily missed. A little more than a year ago, Denton Skate Supply store manager Sam O’Donnell gathered more than 1,000 signatures to petition the City Council for a new skate park, located closer to the heart of town with a more thoughtful designed.

The NTDaily spoke with Sam just after he gave his presentation to the council back in September, “One problem is the current skate park’s layout doesn’t really make any sense with the way the ramps are set up,” O’Donnell said. “There isn’t any flow. As soon as you do an obstacle, there’s usually something in the way that causes a dead end and stops you from following through to the other obstacles.” Where new parks are predominantly if not completely concrete, the wood fixtures at the Denton Skate Park also prove to be a safety hazard, with nails even sticking out in some of the woodwork. The Parks and Rec Director still desired more feedback from the community, and despite Sam’s attempts to rally the troops, it feels like everything is still at a standstill.

When the NTDaily followed up earlier this year, it appeared the project had gained momentum and continued to have the support of Jim Mays, the Superintendent of Planning and Construction. A skate park committee has been created to help guide the project, and keep an open line of communication between the board (of people, not the actual skateboard) and the city. This board is made up of over 10 members, who work collectively to see their dream skate park for the Denton come to fruition. In addition to Mays, there are also several on the council that are supportive and enthusiastic for the drive these individuals are showing to create something that will benefit the community.

Council Member Keely Briggs commented, “I appreciate the grass-roots initiative being taken up within the community to establish a new skate park here within the city of Denton.  Our current skate park, while still a useful asset, has serious limitations.  There are fundamental design flaws which have been brought to council and staff attention.  But in my mind the biggest shortcoming of the current skate park is its location.  We have this park designed for a pedestrian friendly activity – primarily for youth - which is located beyond the loop adjacent to the water park.  You have to drive there or be driven there.  A skate park needs to be connected to the community.  And that connection needs to lock in as part of our pedestrian infrastructure.  I go to other cities, both rural and urban, and see examples of busy skate parks being embraced and brought into the heart of the community."

An agreement was reached to redo the layout of the park, but so far there hasn’t been a sign of construction equipment. With a thriving community of skaters of all ages, you would think they would be breaking ground to retain local commerce, instead of watching it go to other towns. A lot of the locals would rather drive the 30-40 minutes to skate in a place they knew they could grow their skillset and not worry about a rogue nail or splinters. With so much of Denton’s finest within walking distance, the over an hour and a half trek to the skate park from town center, seems so far out of reach and not in tune with the steadily growing population that loves getting their butts outside. With social rides almost every day of the week, the always growing group of social runners on Wednesday night, and outdoor yoga classes popping up all over town, this active Denton community is a steadily growing consumer base.

Checking in with Sam about the progress they've made over the past year, "Denton has deserved this for a long time. I just stopped assuming it would happen on its own and did my research on how to get it done. We've certainly made progress from starting to petition, presenting it to city council, attending focus groups to collect more input, and now spearheading fundraising efforts," shares O'Donnell. It seems the community is doing everything they can do to bring this skate park to life, but continue to be held back by the different departments of the city. The Department of Planning and Construction, who seemed so supportive and eager to get the wheels (all four of them) rolling previously, is not able to provide an exact timeline on the redesign and leaves us in anticipation of even the slightest improvement to the skate park that will not only be a supportive gesture from the city showing they do care about the skateboard community and how this will benefit the full population of Denton as a whole, but also be another step closer to creating momentum towards getting Denton a skate park that is a true reflection of our towns culture, art, and active lifestyle. Taking even the small step to reformat the layout would be sending us down the path of putting ourselves on the map with other neighboring zip codes as a city that hears out its community and does what it can to execute. 

Now you’re pumped right? Me too. Even if I still have flashbacks of careening into the bleachers at Scion Park and kids asking if my Fast Forward deck was “vintage”. You can donate through the Denton Parks and Foundation website or the Denton Skate Supply site to throw in a few bucks and help get Denton the skate park it deserves.

Header image design by Jason Lee