Skateboarding is the third most popular sport in the country for people between six and 18-years-old and Houston has a population of young people that is among the largest in the country. Skateboarding has also been around long enough that it is now a family sport. As Houston Public Radio’s Rod Rice reports it is no surprise then that there has been a lot of support for a state-of-the-art skateboard park in the city.
The 30,000 square-foot park will be just off the Sabine Street Bridge along Buffalo Bayou. There will be areas for beginner, intermediate and advanced skateboarders.
“Stoked is about the only word I could use to describe how we’re feeling about double cradles, and over burt pockets and separate pools and all that stuff.”
Brandon Brookshire is a member of PUSH the local group of skateboarders that literally pushed long and hard to get this project to this point. PUSH by the way stands for “Public Use Skateparks for Houston”. Its director is Jason Espeseth. He says PUSH not only wanted a skatepark but it wanted one that was designed and constructed properly with input from local skaters.
“It encompasses all the opinions that we have collected over the last couple of years from skaters throughout the community, so we’re trying to incorporate as many elements of skating into this park as possible to accommodate the different types of skateboarding.”
Espeseth says the park will accommodate all levels of skateboarders. The beginner’s area will help people get comfortable on a skateboard.
“Then they can take it to the next level and even move into the challenging advanced area. That would be areas that are a little bit bigger and a little bit faster.”
One skateboarder thinks this park and its spectacular setting with the downtown skyline as a backdrop will be an international skateboarding destination.
PUSH didn’t do all of this on its own. It first got the Houston Parks Board involved to help raise funds and get the park built. Roksan Okan-Vick is the Parks Board Executive Director. She says the collaboration also included Houston’s Parks and Recreation Department and the support of Mayor Bill White. Okan-Vick says the final stage is already underway.
“We actually have the construction documents complete. We are going to bid in two or so weeks, we’ll break ground right after the 4th of July and we should be all skateboarding here, with our helmets on, twelve months from now.”
Even with all this work and fund raising over the last few years the project is only moving forward now because of a large donation from Houston attorney Joe Jamail who says he had the money and the project needed it.
“It’s something we owe the city, we owe the children to let them have a safe and happy childhood. I think the worse thing that can happen to a child is feeling left out, neglected, this gives them a chance to do things.”
The park will be named the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark.