As 40th anniversary approaches, Kona Skatepark prepares for makeover

Community's help needed for oldest skate park to undergo 1st major renovations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kona Skatepark in Arlington, the oldest surviving skate park in the world, has been an entertainment staple for families for nearly four decades, but it's in need of a makeover.

With its 40th anniversary approaching this summer, Kona Skatepark will undergo its first major renovations. But the park needs some help to keep serving the community.

Over the years, the park has had minor repairs, touching up one crack at a time whenever it was necessary.

But the major renovations planned would transform the 40-year-old rough concrete into something much more polished and smooth. 

For many people, it's more than just a skate park. It's where children and teenagers have built confidence and formed relationships since 1977.

"Kids grew up here and families are coming back and bring their kids to grow up here," said Martin Ramos, owner of Kona Skatepark. "It's multigenerational."

Everyone is welcome at Kona Skatepark. All they need is a helmet, a skateboard, a scooter or anything that rolls.

Ramos' parents bought the park in the 1980s, and he took over in 1995. Other than minor repairs here and there, the park has never had a complete renovation. 

But now that it's approaching its 40th anniversary, Ramos, a skateboarder himself, told News4Jax on Friday that it's time. 

"We know so much more about concrete and skateboard engineering and design that we feel we can take what's here and actually make it better than what it was when it was originally built," he said. "So that's our first priority."

Ramos said revamping the park will also benefit the two groups of people who are taking up skateboarding more than anyone else these days -- women and people over the age of 50.

After they refurbish what's already been there for decades, they'll expand the skate park. 

"A competitive street league course, or a competitive park series course -- I'm creating a type of amphitheater for competitions for amateurs and professionals. And it's something that really doesn't exist anywhere else in the world, so (it) would be great to bring that to Jacksonville," Ramos said. 

The cost of the renovations is estimated to be about $1.2 million. People can help Kona continue to serve the community be heading to the skate park's 40th anniversary festival June 22-25 that will feature professional skateboarders, live music and family fun.

Tickets range from $10 to $20. All proceeds will go toward the renovations. 

Ramos hopes that the festival will help raise enough money to begin the first phase of renovations by the beginning of 2018. It would be a lengthy project that he hopes to have finished by 2020.

Fore more information on the 40th anniversary festival, visit Kona Skatepark's website