Skate park advocates target new grant money but need Dripping Springs’ help

Hays

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Supporters of a proposed skateboard park in Hays County will ask city council members on Tuesday to support the project by teaming up to apply for grants for construction.

Dennis Baldwin looks at conceptual renderings on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. (KXAN Photo/Chris Davis)

The Dripping Springs Skate Park Initiative has been raising money for months to fund the new park. So far advocates have raised about $100,000, roughly a fifth of what they expect to need.

“If we continue raising money at this rate, we’re talking another four to five years,” said skate park advocate Dennis Baldwin. “So that’s why we’re really lobbying for the city to get involved.”

The city’s already donated about an acre of land for the park on the north end of Founders Memorial Park; now Baldwin and the skating community will ask for help applying for grants that the nonprofit is not eligible for.

“Together, I think we’d be a stronger force to make this happen,” said Dripping Springs’ Parks and Community Services director Kelly Schmidt. She’ll advocate on behalf of the partnership Tuesday.

‘A blank canvas’

drip skate park rendering
Conceptual renderings from Austin-based SPA Skateparks show what a park in Dripping Springs could look like, though advocates have not settled on a final design. See the other designs in the slideshow at the end of this story.

Baldwin, 44, has been skateboarding for the last three decades. He loved soccer as a kid, but wanted to find something that would allow him to express his individuality more.

“Skateboarding just really allowed me to do that,” he said, “challenge myself both mentally and physically.”

When he moved to Dripping Springs, the north Texas native started teaching skate classes to local high-schoolers through a school district camp. He found a community of kids who wanted the same outlet he found. Now he hosts and teaches at a weekly community skate night in the city, but he wants the community to have a permanent concrete home that will also attract skaters from across central Texas.

Schmidt’s older daughter, Summer, 9. (Photo Courtesy: Kelly Schmidt)

“When you see a park, you’re sort of daydreaming, ‘What tricks, what elements am I going to skate?'” he said. “I view this as sort of a blank canvas.”

Schmidt’s daughters (especially her oldest, Summer) are also interested in skating, thanks to her mom. “I was skater, believe it or not, back in the day,” Schmidt said.

She came to Dripping Springs about three months ago and immediately started supporting the skate park initiative. Where she’s from, on the West Coast, skate programs encourage kids to take up the sport. Both her daughters have been intimidated at the community skate nights, but she thinks having a dedicated park would change that.

“I think they would be more encouraged,” she said, “especially if there was formal programming.”

More grants available

In addition to getting help writing grant proposals from the nonprofit side, the advocacy group would gain access to other grant opportunities that only cities are eligible to apply for if council members approve the partnership.

A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) grant, which Schmidt plans to target, is only available to municipalities; however, a partnership with a nonprofit like the skate park group makes the grant application stronger. The parks director plans to ask for $250,000 in matching grant money from TPWD.

Schmidt hopes opportunities like that make the park possible. “It’s just been a passion of mine,” she said. “I love to support sports that celebrate the individual, as well as team sports.”

Baldwin wants to see the park built and open to the public by June 2021, but he knows it might very well be later than that. “A lot of the kids that I skate with, they’re in high school now,” he said. “We certainly want to get this park built before they graduate.”

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