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All ramped up Skate park vendor opens concession stand

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Published:   |   Updated: August 11, 2013 at 02:49 PM

SPRING HILL - Something new has been added to Stewy's Skate Park in Spring Hill.

Hernando County officials and Sean Cunningham have reached agreement on a vendor's contract and patrons to the park can now get a cold drink and a snack after a hard day on the ramps.

Cunningham was one of three people who submitted bids to the county to run the concession stand and he couldn't be more pleased in getting the nod.

"I love the place," said Cunningham, who opened the last week of July. "My family loves the place. I know 90 percent of the people who go there."

Cunningham said he's been going to Stewy's for more than six years and seen many of the skaters grow from youngsters into adults and believes he can be a "father figure" as well as a concessionaire.

He plans to be open 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day in the summer. When school opens, the hours will be 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Patrons can purchase Pepsi products, Gatorade, energy drinks and bottled water. Pre-packaged snacks include beef jerky, Slim Jims, fruit cups, granola bars and candy bars.

Cunningham, 40, does maintenance work at Camper's Holiday in Brooksville during the day and plans to get to Stewy's around 3 p.m. most days. His 16-year-old son Gavin takes the early shift in the summer until dad arrives.

Assistant County Administrator for General Services Russ Wetherington called the situation a win for the county, which gets 20 percent of the gross revenue from special events and the $150 monthly rental fee. Park patrons also benefit from being able to cool off with a drink, he said.

How much money the county nets from the vendor operation depends on Cunningham's profits. Wetherington doesn't expect it to be too much but every little bit helps, he said.

"Hopefully, the operation will work," Wetherington said.

Cunningham said he will personally give skateboard lessons on Saturday and Sunday, sell skateboard products, boards, wheels and bearings. With the county's permission, he will look into weekly night skates, events, contests and other activities.

In February 2012, Hernando County was forced to take back operation of Stewy's Skate Park after the nonprofit organization that had previously handled it defaulted on its insurance.

The county found the skate park has been the target of vandals and the county has had to come out to clean up various messes. Stewy's is part of Pioneer Park at 6799 Pinehurst Drive in Spring Hill.

The county hopes having someone on-site on a regular basis will cut down on that vandalism.

County commissioners at one time had included Stewy's on the list of possible park closings to help balance the budget. But the county was inundated with signatures on a petition hoping to keep the operation going.

Cunningham said he hopes to once again make Stewy's a viable operation and there are already signs that it is happening.

"The park is growing," he said. "Word is getting out about it."

Miguel Santiago, 17, says conditions have already approved, especially since Cunningham installed a music system booming out classic rock songs.

"I think it's amazing," Santiago said. "Considering now we don't have to go all the way to other stores (for food and beverages). And now that we have music, I'm pretty sure I'll have a way better time."

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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