By Michele Stevens Bernard, TSB Lifestyle Editor
Steve Brainerd may have the best job ever. As the Park Development Superintendent for the City of McKinney, Brainerd gets to get up every day and create spaces for people to enjoy.
This thought crosses my mind this early March morning as I keep step with Brainerd. He is escorting me over, around and through a construction site that sooner rather than later will be McKinney’s much anticipated skate park located at Gabe Nesbitt Community Park, 7100 W. Eldorado. Get your helmets, kneepads and long boards ready. Opening day of this much anticipated recreation area will be here before you know it.
I pull my jacket close as I survey the 3-acres of slate-gray concrete ramps, mounds, and bowls in front of me. Early sun punches through wispy clouds shining fingers of bright light on the small army of construction workers bent to their tasks. Dirt moves. Metal rods are laid. Concrete pours. Work-in-progress crystallizes in a stunning post-dawn light show. According to Brainerd, if we continue to enjoy more days like this day, the opening of this park might happen sooner rather than later. At this writing, the park is slated to open sometime in April 2013. Stay tuned.
I peak over the edge of the first of three bowls featured in what I feel sure will draw legions of skaters and spectators alike. I listen as Brainerd explains to me how skaters of all skill levels will find their place in this complex. The space divides between bowls and cityscapes.
In the bowl section, I see three structures. The beginner bowl is easy to spot, even for the uninitiated (read over-protective) Moms like me. It features gently sloping curves, not-so-scary hills, and long stretches of flat ground. The next bowl has intermediate level skaters in mind, is deeper than the first and features a lipped edge for skaters to grab with their boards. Finally, the most challenging bowl on site is for the experts. Deep with vertical drops designed to put air between the skater and his or her final destination at the bottom, only the most skilled will call this bowl home.
The next section we inspect features all those fun places deemed off-limits to skateboarders when found in front of businesses and the like: concrete stairs, metal rails, ramps and even a huge imposing obelisk with multiple faces that rises vertically to the sky. I mistakenly take the piece to be public art, or maybe a fountain meant to be gazed upon by those of us who will be taking in the action from the built-in amphitheater seating. Brainerd and I both shake our heads in amazement as he explains to me that the vertical lines of what is dubbed “The Volcano” is actually there for skaters to scale. I stare in disbelief at the structure unable to wrap my mind around the how of it all. This will definitely be something I need to see to believe.
As we wrap up our sneak-peek tour, I listen as Brainerd enthusiastically speaks of the kids and those in the skateboard community who weighed in with their ideas and who actually helped design this park. He then gestures toward the crew of laborers hard at work as he shares how even the companies involved in the design and building of the park are members of the skateboard family, who as they grew up, turned their passions into vocations.
I snap a few photos and try to capture the memory of the morning. I look forward to opening day. As we say goodbye, Brainerd hints at the possibility that McKinney skaters might find themselves skateboarding alongside pros. Fingers-crossed.
On second thought, that might be the best job ever.
Thank you Steve Brainerd for the sneak peak tour. For more information about the development of this project click here. To hear what Steve has to say, check out the embedded video above. To see more pics of the work-in-progress, check out the photo gallery below.