By Tamas Mondovics

When they were completed, some wondered about the $1 million in Parks Impact Fees Hillsborough County used to build two skateboard parks one year ago.

Fast forward to today and looking at some statistics gathered by park attendants, not to mention the sentiments of those who actually use the parks that are located in Brandon and Apollo Beach, the question of “was it worth it” has now been answered.

“Parks, Recreation and Conservation is very happy with the overwhelming success of the Brandon and Apollo Beach Skate Parks,” said Parks, Recreation and Conservation Division Manager of Recreation, Shorty Robbins. “We are looking forward to the construction and opening of our third skate park at the Jackson Springs site, which will be a level-two skate park.”

Recognizing its success as well as encouraging residents young and old to enjoy the parks, Hillsborough County decided to celebrate the first anniversary of the Apollo Beach and Brandon skate parks on June 21, designated as ‘Go Skateboarding Day’ by inviting all skater aficionados and Tweeters to drop into the Apollo Beach and Brandon Skate Parks and help us celebrate with free food, giveaways and a best trick contest

County spokesperson, Kemly Green, said that yearly, on this special day, skateboarders around the globe celebrate by abandoning televisions, video games and computers and go skateboarding.

As most Brandon area skaters already know, the Brandon Skate Park is an 11,000 sq. ft. “obstacle street and bowl” skate park that features an intermediate/professional bowl.

The shallow end is six feet deep and the deep end is more than nine feet deep. The park also includes an obstacle street section with two main levels that split the park in two sections and a series of transition elements.

Attendance is not too shabby either, as it sees hundreds of skaters each week that make use of the facility.

“This level-three skate park hosts an average of 350 skaters per week,” Green said, adding that since its opening in May 2012, it has counted more than 1,800 registered participants.

Its sister park in Apollo Beach, which has been since renamed the Diego Duran Skateboard Plaza after the Ruskin teen who was injured on New Year’s Eve as the result of celebratory gunfire, also boasts of the same positive results.

The likewise 11,000 sq. ft. street plaza is a level-one skate park, shaped like a three-pointed star with an elevated center.

Each of the three points has a structure that allows skaters to turn around and keep a constant flow, while the parks’ unique shape and landscape allows for endless lines throughout.

Brandon resident, Robert Vega, 51, a frequent visitor to the Apollo Beach Skateboard Park, was pleased with the parks design and promised to skate at the park as long as he is able.

“I like the obstacles but I feel that the entire park is well balanced for all users,” Vega said.

Park designers used the advice of local skaters,  most of whom were in their teens. They were proud of the finished product which lets anyone skate around the entire park or simply skate one element at a time, a feature that proved not only to be an important element, but also a great draw in park visitors.

“The Apollo Beach Skate Park has an average of 200 visitors per week,” Green said. “Since it opened in September 2012, it is nearing 1,000 registered participants.”

Complete Skate Park Rules and waivers are available online while residents may sign-up under News Flash to receive news and announcements from the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department.

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