LAKELAND, Fla. - Skaters in Lakeland can breathe a sigh of relief as their long drives to find a skate park will soon come to an end.
On Monday, the city commission approved a $1.3 million skate park at Lake Bonny Park across from Lakeland High School.
The city will pay for the project using money from the sale of an old park next to the hospital.
Eight-year-old Emily Headson has been skating since the age of two. The sponsored skater has been hooked ever since her dad introduced her to the sport.
The father-daughter duo currently drive at least 45 minutes to get to the nearest public skate park.
"This morning, she has already asked me like 50 times, are we going to New Tampa today?" David Headson said.
He and a group of skaters have been pushing for a new skate park ever since the hospital purchased the old park a year-and-a-half ago in order to expand.
"The skate community was very engaged throughout the entire process," said Pam Page, Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation.
It took about seven meetings, a field trip to other parks, and a load of perseverance, but Page said together, the city and skaters got it done.
The city chose Lake Bonny for the new park so it could take advantage of the existing amenities like restrooms and parking.
The drawings give the park an artsy flair with a focus on families.
"We're doing it Lakeland style," she said.
Bruce Phillips, Vice President of Crowder Brothers Ace Hardware, fought for this project for every skater at heart.
He says he hopes this project will help break down some stereotypes, too.
"Today's skate park is yesterday's football or baseball field," he said. "Kids are still playing football and baseball but they're also skating."
Construction on the new Lakeland Skate Park will begin in mid-December.
If all goes as planned, it should open to the public by May.