Indian River County has approximately 11,000 skateboarders, bicycle motor cross (BMX) and in-line skaters using the streets, parks, business store fronts and homemade ramps to practice their action sports. The community has only one small skate park in Sebastian for skateboarders but BMX and in-line skating is prohibited. Police can issue citations of $15 to those who violate ordinances prohibiting skateboarding on certain streets and parks in Vero Beach and Indian River County.
In February 2016, the City of Vero Beach City Council voted to allow the Vero Beach Skate Park Alliance (VBSPA), a non- profit organization, to raise money to build a skate park at Leisure Square, the City’s health and wellness complex on 16th Street. Since then the VBSPA has been spreading the word about the need for a skate park and looking for an “Angel Investor” to help with its $1 million price tag.
City leaders have generously offered the athletic fields currently underutilized at Leisure Square as a location for the19,000 square foot skate park. The complex has the existing infrastructure in place to include staffing, lights, fencing and plenty of parking along with the benefits of a pool, basketball courts, volleyball courts, gymnastics programs, a weight room, group fitness studios, summer camps and more.
The all-inclusive skate park at Leisure Square will provide a safe environment for skateboarders, BMX and in-line skaters. Skateboarding is the second fastest growing sport in the country behind snowboarding and will debut as an Olympic sport in 2020. Leisure Square hopes to parlay the addition of a skate park and the large number of people it will attract with a complete wellness experience to include after school activities and a destination location for regional action sports competitions.
The VBSPA has received numerous commitments from local businesses, community groups and youth organizations to help with the effort. Team Pain, the premier skate park builder in the country, which is based in Orlando, has signed on to design and build the park.
What makes this park so special is that it will be an “all inclusive” park which will allow not only skateboards but bikes and in-line skates to enjoy their sports in relative safety without fear of violating the law or getting hit by cars. This inclusive approach will attract many more users to the park by allowing the use of all modalities to share the park at the same time. The fee for the park is projected to be $10 per month for access to everything Leisure Square has to offer.
The City of Vero Beach approved the idea of the skate park in part because of a 2015 state statute which indemnifies any municipality from liability from accidents in a skate park. Ironically, given the reputation of being a dangerous sport, skateboarding has statistically been proven to be safer than many organized sports to include football, soccer, lacrosse and baseball. Most skateboarding accidents have occurred when kids build their own skate ramps at home or get hit by cars in the street. The skate park will provide a safe place for kids of all ages to safely practice their sport.
The VBSPA has had a number of fundraisers and are scheduled to put on the first ever Margarita Fest in April 2017. They have raised over $7,000 in just a few months but they are looking for a special person or organization to underwrite the entire project. This skate park will have a huge, positive impact on our community and will become a lasting legacy for the “Angel Investor” who gets involved.