SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — A beautification project in Walton County is making a popular skate park safer for kids and residents.
The county unveiled two new graffiti walls at Helen McCall skate park in Santa Rosa Beach dedicated to graffiti art and making it safer for those on wheels.
“When the graffiti artists use their paint it makes the surface really slick, which causes the skaters to fall and cause more and more injuries. They have damaged so much of the bowl that we have to use a special type of skate paint to give it a little rough surface,” said Mark Wendel, Walton County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Lieutenant.
Painting murals and spaces for artists started in 2020 to prevent property damage at Driftwood Estates.
“We started there with seven murals. To date, we’re at 14 murals throughout the county, and we’re continuing to grow with the program,” said Wendel.
WCSO will monitor the walls daily, looking for any profanity or vulgar messages. If some appear, they will cover those spots to give the artist a new blank canvas and start over.
“We’re hoping that the kids respect the walls for that. I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of skaters and they’re like, ‘We don’t like the graffiti artists damaging our skate park. We really want them to utilize these walls’ and therefore, we’re all working together as a team on this,” said Wendel.
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with Parks and Recreation Department and the Cultural Arts Alliance created the concrete slabs. Local businesses donated the materials and construction making it a free win for the board of county commissioners.
“We’re giving them a dedicated space, and hopefully they will use it. And I think they will. You know, they’re artists. They like to show their work, and I don’t blame them. But if I could draw a straight line, I would do the same thing. But I’m excited about it,” said Tony Anderson, District 5 Commissioner.
The county plans to host a grand opening for the walls and skate park on Dec. 2. Live music and free paints will be available for kids and residents to enjoy.