A skate park will be built in Longview next year, after supporters shattered an $80,000 fundraising barrier.
Brian Dodson thought it would take at least two years to raise the money needed to build a skateboarding and biking complex at Ingram Park.
Instead, it took 15 months from the first fundraiser, which was a Bicycle Adventure Day in June 2018, to the final $10,000 donation two weeks ago from Texas Steel and Pipe.
That $10,000 gift helped Dodson reach $40,000 in private funds, which combined with a $40,000 matching grant from the city of Longview provides the $80,000 needed to build the skate park using weather-resistant surface materials designed to stand up to skateboard and BMX bike punishment.
“I had high hopes of within two years,” Dodson said. “They said that they’re going to put us in the books for February.”
Dodson has met with city Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron to iron out details, both men said.
“It’s great that they have been able to raise the funds to go to the skate park,” Caron said. “The plan for now... is to shoot for February. It will be here before we know it.”
They are following a design for the skate park unveiled more than a year ago but with a few adjustments, Dodson said, such as adding smaller grind ledges, rails and manual pads behind the 4-foot mini ramp.
Along with the city and Longview Steel and Pipe Supply, other large contributors were Go Green Recycling, Peters Chevrolet, Frank Hemmen Associates and Tejas Hydraulics, Dodson said.
There were many smaller donors, but there also was a constant vocal push from supporters who showed up at municipal and community meetings, even when other parks were the topic and not a skate complex at Ingram.
“Even though those meetings were about individual parks, those meetings gave people the opportunity to come and bring up the skate park,” Dodson said.
“We had a lot of skateboarders (and) a lot of parents come to those, a lot of BMX riders and BMX racers who made their voices known that, ‘Hey, we do support the park,’ “ he added, “but also have more things like this that are physical activities for bike riders or skateboarders or stuff like that.”
Dodson believes that those appearances were seen by city leadership, who eventually came around to making the $40,000 commitment. Without supporters, the skate park fundraising effort likely would taken longer, he said.
“It shows that the city cares, and I think that’s more important than the $40,000 — that they are here,” Dodson said, “and if you want things you’ve got to show that you want it.”
Longview has an incredible community that has demonstrated its desire for a comprehensive park system, Caron said, and Dodson recognized that its parks lacked a desirable alternative play amenity and worked with the city, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the City Council to find a solution.
“All of us have the same goal, which is to meet the recreational needs of all our residents,” Caron said. “We have limited funding for new items, and fortunately we have people willing to invest not only their time but money.”