Kobe Gallardo, 14, was stoked to be among the first to test out the rails, ramps and quarter pipes of the newly opened MTR Skatepark.
“I like it. I think it is amazing,” he said. “I have been looking forward to it for the past two years, since they started talking about it. Now that it is finally here, it is good for us. I get to skate with my friends and it gives me something to do.”
On Wednesday, the city of Seguin officially opened the skatepark by cutting a 200-foot ribbon spanning the length of the skatepark, which is located at the corner of North Vaughan Avenue and San Antonio Avenue.
“I think it is good, it is great,” said Joshua Gallardo, Kobe’s father. “It is good for the kids. It gives them something to do, it keeps them active, it keeps them out of trouble. It is a big, positive thing.”
The skatepark, which was built by Spa Skateparks out of Austin, includes a number of features for skaters — amateur or advanced — to test and perfect their skills, said Yann Curtis of Spa Skateparks.
“There are ledges, banks, manual pads, quarter pipes and stairs, which are really popular,” he said. “There is also a pump bump which will actually help the skater pick up speed as they skate over the top.”
Seguin Parks and Recreation Director Jack Jones was thrilled with the work Spa Skateparks put into the project.
“They did a great job,” he said. “The skatepark was done before the park was done.”
When the city began discussion about creating a new park for the city, Beth Raetzsch was there to advocate for the skating community and she was there on Wednesday to see the project come to fruition.
“I am just overwhelmed. I am so excited to see all of the skaters here and friends and family,” she said. “I couldn’t thank you all enough.”
Beth’s son, Michael Thomas Razetzsch, was an avid skater before his death at the early age of 22.
It was her son’s love of the sport that prompted her to become an advocate for giving the children in the community a place to safely kickflip, nosegrind and ollie.
“There are so many people that have helped along the way,” she said at the ceremony. “It is just a miracle that we are now opening the stakepark and have a really good, safe, accessible and visible (venue). The kids that used to skate with my son Michael are here and I want to give a special thank you to you because you are the ones that wanted the skatepark a long time ago.”
Thomas Raetzsch, Michael’s father, was blown away by the support from the city and the community for his family’s quest.
“I am just in awe of Seguin and I love the outpouring of generosity that has been shown to our family. It is just amazing. Beth is tenacious with this and I am going to thank you from my heart because now I won’t have to go through all of this any more,” he joked.
To which Beth quipped, “We’re looking for MTR Skatepark No. 2.”
Seguin Mayor Don Keil said the MTR Skatepark is something the city has needed for while.
“I remember many years ago when the Raetzsch family came to us with this little folder talking about a skatepark and how much it was needed and how much it mattered to the young people in Seguin,” he said. “Frankly, I didn’t really know much about skateboards and I don’t think most people on council did either. But you put up Mike’s Ledge over at the Activity Center and got that going and it was very popular, but it was very inadequate. We all know that now.”
With the push from Beth, the city put the skatepark on the parks bond package and it was approved by the voters.
“Over the years, Beth has kept after us,” Keil said. “She is a very, very tenacious woman when it comes to this project and I think it is admirable that she has had this kind of effort to make this all happen.”
But it wasn’t just the Raeztsch family, Keil said.
It was the city and the community who made the skatepark a reality.
“There are so many people here who all have had so much to do with this,” he said. “All of the people of Seguin are those who made this happen. It would not be possible without those folks who made this happen.”
Jones specifically recognized one of the skaters, 14-year-old Cameron Saunders-Matthews, who helped contribute his thoughts and ideas during the design process.
“There is one young man here who is really involved in the design, comes to all of the meetings was very eager to help out,” he said while handing Cameron a new skateboard deck during the ceremony.
Before the ribbon-cutting, Cameron surprised Beth with flowers for helping to make the park a reality.
“Dr. (Thomas) Raeztch is my doctor and I started talking to him about skating,” he said. “I don’t know what drove them (the Raeztsch’s) to do it except for the fact that Michael skated and that is what Michael wanted. The fact that people care enough about skaters to give them a facility to be in is unbelievable.”