Pensacola's Blake Doyle Skatepark was 8 years in the making, but opening day is nearly here
After eight years in the making, the Blake Doyle Skatepark is in its final stretch.
Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves and the project's visionary, Jon Shell, led a small tour Thursday to show off the progress on the skate park.
The initiative to start the new skate park was led by Shell and his organization, Upward Intuition. The new amenity will occupy one city block at the end of the new Hollice T. Williams Park beneath the Interstate 110 overpass.
The skate park is scheduled to have a grand opening on May 2 at 3 p.m.
Shell, looking around the near completed skatepark Thursday, was ready for the future.
“I’m super excited, and I’m really excited to skate it,” Shell said.
Shell said he hopes to host events to bring a festival-type vibe to the park, which he said would be great for the skateboard culture in Pensacola.
Reeves also voiced his enthusiasm for the park.
“These are the types of projects that get me excited and being able to see all the progress that's happened so far, not just the concrete but all the hard work put in by advocates, by our community,” Reeves said. “You know, I can tell you all the feedback, emails and people on the street that we get asked about this project, when it's going to be done and how excited they are. So I'm just really, really fortunate to be able to be a part of that.”
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Bear General Contractors LLC, who are building the skate park, are still in the process of completing landscaping, sidewalks, artificial turf and a few other tasks — about three weeks' worth of work before they hand the space over to the city.
The motivation behind building a new skatepark came because Shell, as a lifelong skateboarder, wanted to bring a skate park back to his hometown of Pensacola.
In 2015, Shell created a blog series called "Forgotten Youth" that outlined the need for a skate park. Upward Intuition was established to help raise money for the endeavor and the group pushed to name the park after a friend, Blake Doyle, who was killed by a train in 2015.
Since then, Shell and Upward Intuition have been raising money and getting approvals from the Pensacola City Council to move the project forward.
The nearly $2.2 million skate park broke ground on Aug. 2 of last year between Jackson and La Rua streets next to From The Ground Up Community Garden. It will be part of the first phase of the $25 million Hollice T. Williams Stormwater Park, connecting the neighborhood around the I-110 overpass with downtown.
The skate park will be modeled similarly to the iconic West L.A. Courthouse Skate Plaza in Los Angeles that became a popular spot for skaters because its ledges were perfect for skateboarders to grind and slide on. It will also include a beginner area for those new to skateboarding, a multi-level skate plaza, two skate bowls and sidewalks going around the skate area.
According to Shell and his organization, the skate park serves as a tool for crime and drug prevention, as well as an anchor for amenities such as the From the Ground Up Community Garden, walking paths and an integrated amphitheater and stage.
It will be a walkable, bikeable and skateable corridor for the entire community to connect and enjoy activities while leading into the downtown and waterfront areas.
For more information about Upward Intuition and future events go to their website at upwardintuition.org
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Blake Doyle Skatepark in downtown Pensacola open on May 2