Skaters try out the new concrete fixtures at Largo’s Bayhead Action Park, which recently opened for skateboarders, scooters and bikers alike. The city of Largo will host a grand opening ceremony Aug. 17.
LARGO – For most of the skateboarders trying out Bayhead Action Park for the first time July 25, the rounded slopes of the dry swimming pool – designed to look just like a real one – were too steep.
But J.T. Griffiths, 15, dropped the 7 feet into the empty bowl effortlessly, the wheels of his skateboard grinding against the concrete as momentum carried him along the edge of the other side, his body going parallel with the level ground above him.
“I can’t do like he does,” commented Nick Cushing, 14, of Largo, who was testing out the rest of the park with his scooter. “I can’t get out of them.”
Griffiths said he saw the park as he drove past it on Seminole Boulevard. His father, Jason Kylis of Largo, was surprised that a skate park was so close by. The Largo High School graduate said he was more into football when he was young. But Kylis’ younger son, Jake, takes after his brother and brought his own small skateboard and helmet to the park.
“Jake is just like him when he was 6,” Kylis said. “They like it. Now there’s (a skate park) right down the street.”
The city of Largo opened Bayhead Action, at 375 Seminole Blvd., on July 24. Many neighborhood residents had been anxiously watching the construction of the lighted, 7,000-square-foot park – complete with a concrete mini ramp, empty pool, half pipe and a street section with rails, steps and a grind box. One skateboarder admitted that he had been cited for trespassing, caught more than once trying out the skate slopes before the park was completely finished.
The attendance was “crazy” even on the first night the park was open, Kylis said. Parks Superintendent Greg Brown said the city hadn’t advertised the park’s opening, but was pleasantly surprised that it was “loaded with kids already.”
“I’m happy with it,” he said.
Brown said he moved up the park’s grand opening ceremony to before school starts. Members of the community are invited to the ribbon cutting Saturday, Aug. 17, 11 a.m. The event will feature skate and bike demonstrations, DJ music and giveaways sponsored by 688 Skateshop FLA, Dukka Skateshop, Westside Skateshop and Misiano Skatepark Construction.
The skate park was originally moved to Bayhead in the wake of renovations at the Highland Recreation Center. The mostly flat skate park at Highland featured modular steel structures that required more maintenance than the 100 percent concrete ramps at Bayhead, Brown said.
“I still have all that old equipment. We’re thinking about putting it in somewhere else in future years, but with staff reduction … this stands up to the test of time a whole lot better than what we had,” he said.
The budget for the Bayhead skate park started at around $150,000, but the city spent about $11,000 more on the project, Brown said. Added to the park was a wall and railing along the top of the pool, giving some division between the skaters and the walking path below it at a cost of about $4,500. A quarter pipe also was added to finish off the other side.
Aside from the skate park, Bayhead Action Park, open daily from dawn to dusk, features two lakes, four lighted sand volleyball courts, two lighted basketball courts, a lighted multipurpose field and a 1/3-mile asphalt loop-walking trail. Amenities include a variety of park benches, picnic tables and trash and recycling bins.
The Bayhead skate park, open daily, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., welcomes skateboarders, bikers and scooters. For more information, call the Largo Parks Division at 586-7415.