City opens BMX, skate park to general approval

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Skateboarders explore the streetscape at the opening ceremony of the Austin BMX & Skate Park Thursday morning. The park boasts 30,000 square feet of skateable terrain.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

Skaters and bikers took to the pavement at a new park Thursday, showing off tricks on ramps and rails clear of scuff marks.

The city opened the Austin BMX and Skate Park to the public Thursday. Young and old, bikers, skaters and hipsters were all out to try the new space as soon as Mayor Lee Leffingwell cut the ribbon.

With light landscaping and clean white concrete, the park has the vibe of a posh urban plaza rather than a back-alley hangout. The park contains an assortment of ramps, rails and half-pipes and a swimming pool-style bowl that was a crowd favorite.

Margaret Eisenbeck visited the park with her grandson and said she was impressed by the facility.

“It looks wonderful, very state-of-the-art to me,” Eisenbeck said. “I feel much better having the kids out here than inside playing video games.”

Her grandson, Matthew Sappington, has ridden other skate parks in Texas and said he approved of the new park.

“I thought the skate park in Dallas was the best in Texas,” Sappington said. “But now I think this one beats it.”

The park is at Shoal Creek Boulevard near North Lamar Boulevard by the old Austin Recreation Center. Construction began in October and was funded by a $1.7 million bond approved by voters in 2006.

Veteran skater Sean Blashill said he felt envious of the youth who will be able to use the park.

“I think the kids out here need to realize how lucky they are to have this,” Blashill said. “I’m an old dog, and we never had anything close to this when I was a kid.”

Brian Kensinger, project manager and developer at California Skate Parks, one of the companies contracted to build the plaza, said he was proud of the open and bike-friendly design.

“What makes this site so unique, besides its plaza design, is its openness to BMX riders,” Kensinger said. “Out of all the skate parks we build, and out of all of them across the country, I’d say only 10 percent of them are open to BMX riders.”

UT custodian Patrick Dworak came early to check out the new park. He said he was friends with some of the builders.

“They are all skaters, so if [the city] was going to build something like this, it’s good that they got skaters to do it,” he said.

Dworak said he thinks the city has acknowledged that skating and BMX aren’t lingering fads from the ’80s.

“If you build a tennis court its going to stay empty,” Dworak said. “If you build a skate park its going to be full all day everyday.”