Since 2016, the city of Gulfport has been grappling with the costs of a new skate park, and the price has been shaved down by almost $100,000.
The original bid for the park was $299,584.45 and after April 10, 2017, it became $199,722.50 by Tampa Contracting Services.
This is approximately a $99,861.95 reduction in costs, and much closer to the original project budget of $170,500.
“We just looked at what was done and saw what city staff could do and some of the things we just didn’t need,” said Fred Metcalf, community development director. “We want as much bang for our buck as possible.”
Gulfport City Manager Jim O’Reilly emphasized that the nearly $100,000 of saved costs can be accredited to the city choosing to use city staff for renovations and construction on the new park.
“We are mainly using our own internal staff,” said O’Reilly.
Final approval for the park was unanimously approved at a September 5 Gulfport City Council meeting.
According to O’Reilly, the project should be completed in the next 90 to 120 days.
“That’s our schedule as of right now,” said O’Reilly.
The project is set to be completed adjacent to the baseball field and the basketballs courts at the Gulfport Recreation Center, a location that was originally a point of controversy.
Location, Location, Location
The skate park was once in the Tomlinson Park Complex at 19th Avenue South and 54th Street South. Closed for refurbishment since 2016, many residents complained that the site was unsupervised and dangerous.
In an effort to cap any similar behavior, the new community skate park will be lined with a three-foot fence. The park will be open to the public and will close at dusk, and will be monitored by security cameras, which council emphasized at the September 5 meeting.
As of now, the city will not employ supervisors at the park during daylight hours.
“We tried to accommodate any concerns and there were some comments about this behavior,” said Metcalf. “And it’s been nearly landscaped.”
The 7,500-square-foot area will be built with concrete skateboarding ramps, all varying in sizes according to O’Reilly.
Nick Nicks, the co-founder of the St. Pete Skateboarding Alliance, who has long been an advocate for the opening of the park, says that the new concrete jumps are less noisy and require less maintenance than the wood ones at the previous Gulfport park.
“I think this is going to be fantastic for a community like Gulfport,” said Nicks.
Nicks can recall when he first moved to Gulfport four years ago and a few local parents reached out to him about building a new, safe park.
“They wanted a safe place for their kids to go and stay active,” said Nicks.
The new structures, which will include about 15 to 20 trees lining the park, will have no space impact on the existing recreation facilities.