Plano's Building a $1 Million Skatepark. Will Dallas Ever Do the Same?
This week, the Plano City Council voted to build a new, $1 million outdoor skatepark. McKinney opened one earlier this year. Arlington has plans to build a dozen.
Patrick Michels Night at the Guapo skate bowl circa 2010.
And in Dallas there's a tiny, cheaply built, prefab affair tucked away in a small neighborhood park seven miles east of downtown. Among skaters, it's almost universally scorned.
The question, then, which has been bugging skaters for years, and in some cases decades, is this: Why can't Dallas build a decent public skatepark?
Actually, that question no longer bugs a lot of the old-timers, who have resigned themselves to driving to the suburbs or going to self-built spaces like the Guapo Skills Center in the Cedars.
"It's just a losing battle," says Gregg Stubbs, a 46-year-old legal consultant who first showed up at City Hall to lobby for a public skatepark around 1996. A friend has been doing the same since the 1980s. "I'm convinced that Dallas will never build one."
Why that's the case remains something of a mystery, particularly in a city that can put a park on top of a freeway and will pour millions into horse parks and landfill golf courses.
There was a relatively close call in 2007 when, as Patrick Michels reported three years ago, a Seattle-based skatepark builder designed a modest course to be part of the Trinity Strand Trail, which a wealthy donor promised to fund to the tune of several million dollars.
"As the process moved along, it came to the point where the friends of the Trinity Strand Trail had to endorse the idea of a skatepark," parks department head Willis Winters, then an assistant director, explained to Michels. "It was put to a board vote, and they decided it would not really fit into their plans for the connection, and at that point it went away."
And there are rumors that the city actually does have plans to build something on a piece of property underneath the I-345 underpass in Deep Ellum and is waiting on TxDOT approval, but those murmurings have been around for a couple of years with nothing to show for them. Even if true, it's unlikely the city would do anything right before the state tears up the freeway for a years-long reconstruction.
Stubbs think it may have something to do with skating's image. Too many people at City Hall associate it with drugs, graffiti and delinquent kids. Or maybe it's something else. It isn't really important now. Thanks to decades of mostly mute resistance, the city has gotten its message across.
"I'd say there's too many other things to do than to worry about going to City Hall and petitioning them about stuff they're going to say no to anyway," Stubbs says.