PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — A local construction worker and avid skateboarder, Ernie Watkins, is rebuilding the McElvey Skate Park in Panama City Beach for free.
Watkins said he noticed the park was in pretty poor condition and he reached out to Bay County Parks and Recreation leaders offering to rebuild it. They came to an agreement where the county is paying for the materials, but Watkins is working to renovate the park at no extra cost.
This isn’t Watkins’ first time working on skate parks and he also owned a park on Panama City Beach in the 90s.
“I built skate parks for Vans for a while, and Gravity Games in Providence Rhode Island, I help build the street course at Volcom in California,” he said.
Watkins says local skateboarders are meeting him each weekend that the weather permits to volunteer in building the park back up.
He feels this park is a valuable asset to local families and their children.
“I think it is important to have a skatepark because, a lot of kids don’t play ball sports football, baseball, but a kid can come out here and skateboard on their own, they don’t have to have a team to do it. You don’t have to be a team player to do it, you can do it on your own.”
He also said the activity is a great outlet to help teenagers keep out of trouble and off the streets.
“They can come out here take away anything that is going in their life, and just put that behind them because when you are skateboarding, you’re not thinking about anything but skateboarding.”
He hopes that local skateboarders and county leadership will help keep the park in good condition when the project is complete.