A donor to Gainesville’s newest parks and recreation feature kept his promise Tuesday when he presented a check for $9,300 at a ribbon cutting ceremony.

City employees, skateboarding enthusiasts, members of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, the staff of Forsythe Transportation, Inc., and other members of the Gainesville community came to celebrate the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the city’s new skatepark Tuesday morning.

The Forsythe Transportation Skate Park, located at the corner of Schopmeyer and Truelove streets near the Heritage Park South walking trail, was formally dedicated Tuesday, though it has been open to skaters since at least last week.

Patrick McCage, parks and recreation director, in a short speech, said the park cost about $51,000 total.

“I can’t say enough for our streets department here in Gainesville,” McCage said.

He said the concrete for the park was donated by Joe Shell Concrete Co. The ramps were provided by a donation from Forsythe Transportation.

“It’s really unique when its more than just a city project,” McCage said.

Bill Forsythe, a school bus transportation business owner with headquarters on Main Street in Gainesville, pledged to donate $9,300 upon completion of the park before Aug. 1.

Since the park was finished ahead of schedule, Forsythe presented the check for $9,300 to fund additional ramps for the park.

“This was truly a team effort,” Forsythe said, noting the groundwork laid by others in the community for the park. “... We just happened to be the last ones who had a piece to what was a very large jigsaw puzzle.”

He was presented with a skateboard with a plaque on the board as a token of appreciation from the city.

“The last one usually gets the credit,” Forsythe said, meeting laughter.

Forsythe mentioned the work of Luke Lanham and Lisa Wolf in attempting to get the city to build a skate park in previous years. He also noted the persistence of one young man, Michael Fitzpatrick, who with some friends inspired him to make the donation.

Fitzpatrick, Forsythe said, waited outside Forsythe’s business office in the early evening and asked him “What time do you close?” hoping to use the business’ handicap access ramp for a skateboarding obstacle.

“I thought that was very sophisticated for someone his age,” he said.

Mayor Glenn Loch, joked about his refusal to get on a skateboard for the event. Loch said the last time he was on skate wheels was “on two feet” in the form of roller skates.

“I’ve talked a lot about how Gainesville represents small town America,” Loch said. “But what makes small town American so great are people like Bill.”

Kaye Campbell, Gainesville resident, was with her children Jacob Campbell and Isabel Campbell at the opening. Jacob skates, though Isabel enjoys watching.

“We’ve been driving back forth to Denton every day,” Kaye Campbell said. “So we’re definitely glad this is here.”

She said the city of Denton has the nearest skateboard park, and that she supports her son’s hobby.

Fitzpatrick, in an interview after the opening, said he was sure this day would come.

“I knew it was going to happen, eventually. I just didn’t know when,” he said.

See a feature story about skateboarding in Cooke County in this Sunday’s Register.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr@ntin.net

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