Possum Creek Park is teeming with activity

Brian Moghari, 21, a University of Florida student, skates the pool at Possum Creek Park on Wednesday.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 7:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 11:31 p.m.

While the skate and dog parks at Gainesville's Possum Creek Park have been open since March, the city in the past few months finished two nature trails that jut out into the woods.

Still, even in a city with countless environmentalists and nature lovers, the concrete ramps, curbs and bowls for the skateboarders are by far the biggest draw, Steve Phillips, the city's parks and recreation director, said on Wednesday after a dedication ceremony there.

About 100 people, most of them young skateboarders, turned up for the event, highlighting the park's popularity since reopening in the spring.

When the city first opened the park, located at 4009 NW 53rd Ave., in the 1990s, there were not nearly as many facets, Phillips said.

Now there is the skate park, a dog park divided for small and large dogs, a playground, a boardwalk, two nature trails, an open playing field and a 0.66-mile jogging trail.

"The cool thing is now we have an ... active and passive park," he said.

On Thursday, as usual, dozens of skateboarders and bike riders were jumping, zipping and, yes, falling all over the 18,000-square-foot triangle-shaped plaza.

After the dedication, Commissioner Randy Wells said the relative danger of skateboarding and other extreme sports is not as perilous as youths sitting at home idle on the couch.

In all, the park cost about $1.2 million, that money coming from a variety of sources — a city bond for recreation, a state grant and the Wild Spaces-Public Places tax.

Phillips said the city had to open the grant-funded portions of the park — the skate and dogs parks, the playground, and the parking lot — before April or it would risk losing the money.

Wells, who was on the Plan Board, which makes recommendations to the City Commission, when the skate park was being pursued, said he is happy with the result.

"It's a tremendous asset to this part of town — the whole city really," Wells said.

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