By Gaige Davila
After several months of planning, and years of public desire, South Padre Island broke ground on a skatepark.
The John L. Tompkins Park, named after developer John L. Tompkins, who purchased 1470 acres of land on Padre Island, including the entirety of what is now the city of South Padre Island, in 1950, will become a skatepark.
During a groundbreaking on Feb. 9, skaters, Island residents, news media and city leaders took shovels to dirt, ceremoniously beginning the construction process. The city estimates the skatepark will be finished in 60-90 days.
The City of South Padre Island received several grants for the skatepark, not using any money from the city’s budget, according to councilman Kerry Schwartz. In March 2019, Texas Parks & Wildlife issued a $400,000 grant for the restrooms, parking lot, playground equipment and portions of the sidewalks; another $500,000 was issued for the skatepark, exercise stations, a pavilion, a walking trail, a bocce ball court, solar lighting and a soccer field in the back lot of the park. The Tony Hawk Foundation, now called The Skatepark Project, gave a $5,000 grant towards the skatepark in 2018.
“We’re going to continue asking for grants,” Schwartz told the crowd. “It’s not going to stop, it doesn’t end here. We want more and more and more.”
Schwartz attributed former South Padre Island Mayor Barry Patel facilitating the political environment of the park, saying Patel’s desire to have a “great” park system and Patel’s placing him on the Parks & Recreation Committee.
The city has hired Spohn Ranch Skateparks, based in Los Angeles, California, to build the skatepark. New Line Skateparks, based in British Columbia, Canada, designed the skatepark, according to renderings. Eric Brattin, a founding member and president of the South Padre Island Texas Skaters (SPITS) nonprofit, helped facilitate the city’s securing the skatepark’s builder.
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