deland skate park
DeLand’s park, with prefabricated metal structures bolted into concrete.

The City of DeLand has heard the pleas of local skaters, and plans are in the works to fix up the local Skate Park next to Earl Brown Park at 750 S. Alabama Ave.

First up is fixing the lights at the park that were removed this summer when they were found to be unsafe.

Per Community Information Director Chris Graham, age had taken a toll on the lights.

“One set of the lights, the support had rotted away, and the lights were just hanging there and were liable to fall on someone if we didn’t take care of the issue,” Graham said. 

A budget amendment is expected to come before the DeLand City Commission at its next meeting, Monday, Dec. 19, to pay for new lights at the Skate Park. If approved, Graham said, the city hopes to have lights installed at the Skate Park by February.

Longer-term plans are in the works to completely replace the park, too.

“It’s moving to the forefront of the capital projects,” Parks and Recreation Director Rick Hall said. “We’re going to start exploring options going forward and try to get it into next year’s budget.”

Plans to fully remodel the Skate Park are still in the early stages, Hall said, but he’s looking into grant opportunities as well as specifics for improving the park.

Community input is important, too, he said, especially since the city has heard a lot of feedback about its Skate Park over the years.

“I’m not an expert in skateboard parks,” Hall said, “so we’ll hold some input meetings and get the community’s input and try to find some final designs and go from there.”

The community is invested, too. 

A petition started earlier this month by DeLandite Curren Mullins named “Fixing DeLand Florida’s skatepark” has been signed by more than 1,500 people as of Dec. 7. Mullins, a 15-year-old skater, said the city’s skaters just want a safe place to skate.

A lot of skaters will just go to neighboring cities, like Orange City, to skate, he said. Fixing up the local Skate Park will keep DeLand’s skaters local.

“We need new concrete,” Mullins told The Beacon. “The concrete there is super rough; wheels barely roll on it. Also, all the ramps are rusty and steep, so we need new ramps.”

When asked who would do the design for a potential new skate park, Hall said he had begun to research companies that specialize in skate parks and do both design and construction.

“That would be, to me, the best direction to go,” he said. “They know what they can do, they know all the options; different nuances and everything that goes into it.”

The next meeting of the DeLand City Commission, when commissioners are expected to decide on approving funds for new lights at the existing Skate Park, will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, in the City Commission Chambers in DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.

A community comes together

Mullins isn’t the only one drawing attention to the city’s need for a new place for skaters to hang out. More than $6,000 has been raised through a fundraiser for Sawyer Walter, a 14-year-old DeLand boy who was killed in a car wreck in October.

SKATE MASTER — DeLandite Sawyer Walter was a regular at the Earl Brown Skate Park in DeLand where he was often seen riding on his customized scooter. His mom, Helen Walter, said she probably spent a fortune helping him fix it up. “There was always another piece, an extra bit he needed,” she laughed.

Walter was a skater, a fisherman and, even at 14, passionate about his hometown.

“As soon as this tragedy happened, I knew I had to do something in his name,” his mother, Helen Walter, told The Beacon

Walter and her best friend, fellow DeLandite Amy Jones, kicked off the fundraiser. Their goal with the money is to contribute to fixing up the Skate Park, and maybe even memorialize Walter’s son in the final project. 

Why the Skate Park? Sawyer loved spending time there riding his scooter with his friends, his mother said.

‘AN AMAZING KID’ — Sawyer Walter, 14, grew up in DeLand and loved skating and fishing.

“He pretty much taught himself everything. He was great at stunts,” Helen Walter said. “It meant so much to him. If he wasn’t at the ocean fishing or surfing, he was at the Skate Park.”

Friends of Sawyer’s even held a memorial for him at the Skate Park, she said.

Walter hopes the city will match money she and others have collected and put it toward fixing up the facility. Walter doesn’t want to hear that the project costs too much, because she’s doing it for her son.

“We just want to give back, and I want him to be remembered,” she said. 

The GoFundMe fundraiser for Sawyer Walter can be found online, HERE.


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