Suncoast skaters calling Sarasota skatepark a “Payne” in the neck

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SARASOTA- Wear-and-tear on a 15-year-old Sarasota skate park has caused Suncoast skaters to bail on it.

What started as a local spot to carve, Suncoast skaters now call a “Payne” in the butt.

“I feel like the park is just weathering away,” said Jake Ilardi, a frequent skater at the park.

The 21-year-old has been coming to Payne Skate Park for more than 12 years.

“this is where I grew up. I used to come here every day during the summer…I’d come here from 12 to 10 at night and just skate, skate, skate,” Ilardi said.

The park has been open since 2003; Board Member, Tim Storck said it’s showing its age.

“Since then, there hasn’t been a whole lot done with the park. It’s not taken care of like if you go to a playground and you see what’s happening and that kind of stuff. There’s just a lot of areas that need to be fixed. That aren’t quite safe for a lot of kids,” Storck said.

It’s been enough to turn away aspiring skaters.

Storck said, “It just breaks my heart that no one wants to take care of the park.”

Ilardi says the proof is in the potholes. “The park is just deteriorating. The concrete is chipping up, the coping is getting loose, some of the rails are breaking. It’s just the little things that are just enough to mess you up or throw you off balance,” he said.

Ilardi said he has reached out to The City of Sarasota multiple times.

“They came to the park and had lawyers and the insurance people come check out the park but they never really followed up after that,” Ilardi said.

In a statement, the City of Sarasota said to SNN,

“We are committed to providing a safe and enjoyable park for all skaters. City staff are working diligently to locate a vendor that not only specializes in the type of cement repairs necessary at the skate park, but is willing and able to perform the work. Other improvements, including a new mini ramp and landscaping, cannot be completed until the cement work is done. We look forward to starting repairs as soon as possible.”

But until he sees change, Ilardi said he won’t stop fighting for his second home.

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