Skateboard Park in Kent’s Not Too Distant Future
I don’t know if you noticed but Kent Parks and Recreation has teamed with local skateboard enthusiasts to raise money to build a skateboard park in Kent. Parks and Rec has about $50,000 budgeted in the next 2 years that they hope to combine with private donations to build a place for Kent’s skateboarders to catch a concrete wave. With the popularity of extreme sports, skateboarding is one of the fastest growing outdoor sports and like any sporting activity it needs a venue that is safe, challenging and fun. We’ve had baseball diamonds for years, it’s time to give the skateboarders their turn at the plate.
Although the kids that do it look non-traditional, skateboarding is as serious a sport as any of the traditional athletic past times. It’s really about time to get over our preconceptions and frankly prejudices against them and give them a chance to play like any other kid. Part of the bad rap that skateboarding has developed comes from the fact that without any legitimate skate park skateboarders are left with cruising city streets, parking lots and stairwells looking for a place to play. As a result, trouble ends up finding them — but what do you expect them to find when you send them into alleys to play.
Are skateboarders a small special-interest group? No. According to American Sports Data, Inc., there were 12,459,000 skateboarders in 2001, a 73% increase over three years. That’s more than baseball’s 11,405,000 participants in the same year, a 7% decrease over three years and a 25% decrease over 14 years. The numbers are huge and the trend is clear.
Extreme Sports Network AOL
TRENDS IN U.S. SPORTS/FITNESS PARTICIPATION
1. Snowboarding 51.2%
2. Skateboarding 49.2 %
3. Wakeboarding 32.3%
4. Snowmobiling 28.1%
5. Gymnastics 27.3%
6. Artificial Wall Climbing 27%
7. Surfing 25.6%
8. Elliptical Motion Trainers 21.6%
9. Softball (Fast-Pitch) 18.1%
10. Snowshoeing 17.8%
11. Skiing (Cross-Country) 15.7%
12. Yoga/Tai Chi 15.6%
13. Football (Tackle) 15.0%
14. Paintball 11.9%
15. Weight/Resistance Machines 9.7%
16. Treadmill Exercise 9%
17. Camping (R.V.) 8.3%
18. Golf 7.6%
19. Fishing (Fly) 7.3%
20. Skiing (Downhill) 6.4%
Cities all over the country have recognized how we’ve shortchanged the skate board community because they didn’t play our game and have gone out and built skateparks. These parks range in quality, size and challenges and as Kent looks to get in the game, I’m really excited about what I hope we can build.
The location that Parks and Rec is looking at the new skatepark is where Admore Drive will be extended through to SR 59 by the car dealerships.
Parks and Rec is looking at other cities skateparks and is working with a small design team of local skateboarders to come up with a Kent park design. Here’s a look at what other cities are doing:
A Great Skate
Readers Digest, January 2005 (Come on, how radical can skateboarding be if it’s getting coverage in Readers Digest!)
For urban skateboarders, parks are their playgrounds. Benches, stairs, handrails – all are like monkey bars for the wheels.
Cities, on the other hand, fear skaters will damage park property or injure bystanders. It’s an impasse that’s been known to result in arrests and fines. “I run from cops to this day,” says professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek. Some cities have built ramps to lure skaters from the streets, but these wooden structures usually lack the authenticity skaters crave.
Dyrdek decided to tackle this conflict by asking officials in his hometown, Kettering, Ohio, if they wanted to be a “Mecca for the world to come skate.” The plan for Dyrdek’s dream was simple: a skate plaza with stairs and rails you’d find in a city, so skaters wouldn’t hijack the real one. With sponsor DC Shoes, Kettering raised $600,000 to build it. Expect the sleek site, set to open this winter, to inspire others. “Cities across the country have expressed interest,” Dyrdek says.
The Philadelphia Story
As skateboarding exploded into a $1.5 billion industry by 2000, Love Park in Philadelphia became an iconic location. Amateurs and pros from across the globe traveled to the site; advertisements and magazine stories were frequently shot at the park; and a video game featuring world-famous skateboarder Tony Hawk used a replica of the venue. Thanks in large part to Love Park, Philadelphia had become arguably one of the most famous skating cities in the world.
Despite Philadelphia’s newfound fame, city officials enforced a strict ban on skating in 2002. Shortly thereafter, the city fenced off Love Park and embarked on a renovation effort that made it less skater-friendly. The redesign of the park (and the loss of income associated with it) earned the mayor’s office a barrage of bad press, criticism from the business community, the disapproval of 11 out of 17 city council members, and even a calculated act of civil disobedience by the then-92-year-old Bacon, who took an assisted skate of Love Park in October 2002. The city’s eventual concession, in August 2003, was to secure a prime stretch of land along the Schuylkill River for a designated skatepark. If all goes well, street skating will get its showcase venue in 2007.
A surprising level of cooperation informed a process that involved the skateboarding community, city officials, parks commissions, neighborhood associations, museum directors, a traditional skatepark designer, and a landscape architect secured by Bracali. Maxine Griffith, formerly of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, along with project manager David Schaaf in the Urban Design division (whose son is a skater), supported a multifunction urban park design. Bracali and Joshua Nims of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund, in particular, proved willing to spearhead an unprecedented effort to design a park aimed at integrating skaters into the city’s social fabric of pedestrians, bikers, and museumgoers.
Nims, a 31-year-old lawyer and skateboarding advocate turned budding urban planner, likens the Schuylkill River Skatepark to a “huge exercise in proving a certain coexistence between two things that municipalities have sworn couldn’t coexist. Skateboarders and baby carriages don’t mix. Well, yeah, you’re probably right, but can they exist in a good plan? And is it worth a try?”
Bracali held 13 public workshops in four different neighborhoods throughout the design process. Nims and other skateboarders were regularly consulted about the skating elements in the park. Nims prefers to call the final plan a “landscape for skateboarding” instead of a skatepark. These skatescapes, he hopes, will be more “public space” than isolated skatepark. “Typically, in the design of skateparks, there is no discussion of context, no discussion of urban relationships,” he says.
Bracali’s design is based on a grid created by aligning the park so that it shares axial relationships with surrounding landmarks—the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and surrounding elements of the skyline are within view. Ramps, steps, and even Love Park’s old granite-slab benches (removed in 2002) are part of the plan. Unlike most skateparks, the design features multiple entrances in and out of the area that connect surrounding trails and establish zones for socializing between skaters and nonskaters.
As a subculture full of opinionated individuals continues to shed its fringe status, its participants might have once again found their voice in Philadelphia. Even more surprisingly, they have also left their mark on a part of the city from which they are still excluded—that park at the center of the City of Brotherly Love is finally full of the life originally intended. Today, Love Park is bustling.
Kingsport Tennesse (my former city)
Scott Adams Memorial Skatepark set for grand opening jam
By Brad Lifford
He had gotten so used to be being places he wasn’t supposed to be with his skateboard — even places where it was illegal to be — Travis Woods couldn’t get his mind off the place being built for him and those who share his obsession.
The pull was so strong he almost couldn’t resist trespassing one more time, even though the No Trespassing signs encircled 10,000 square feet of concrete that makes up the nearly finished Scott Adams Memorial Skatepark.
“It looks awesome. I’d love to break the law right now and try it,” Woods said, “but I won’t do that.”
Woods and his skateboarding comrades — as well as bike riders and in-line skaters — won’t have to wait much longer. The skatepark, located at Cloud Park on Center Street, will officially open on Saturday with a Grand Opening Jam. Kingsport officials said it might open for traffic even two or three days early if the concrete has sealed properly.
But no matter when the first wheels meet concrete, the skatepark will get its official christening at noon, Saturday, when the ribbon is cut. The jam will last until 3 p.m., with free refreshments, prize giveaways and mini contests.
And, of course, the most important thing.
“It looks fun, and kids are dying to get there,” said Woods, an electrician’s helper in Kingsport. “I’d say the first week or two it’s gonna be ridiculously insane as far as how crowded it’s gonna be. You’re gonna have to fight your way through there.”
Competition for space probably won’t be limited to skaters and bikers from Kingsport, either. Knoxville doesn’t have a skate park; it’s only park — a private one — is closed. And Mark Kilgore, who has been Kingsport Parks & Recreation’s point man on the skate park, said people have shown up well in advance to use it. Usage will be free from dawn to dark; there are no lights.
“I was there the other day and a gentleman with five or six kids and their bikes showed up from Big Stone Gap,” Kilgore said. “They just heard about the park, and they thought it was already open. They said they’d be back.”
Chris Ball, a BMX biker who lives in Colonial Heights, has that one topped.
“I’ve got some friends in Greensboro (N.C.) who are planning to come over and check it out,” Ball said.
Skaters have longed for something like this, and a tragic event in 2002 galvanized the movement to make it happen. The park is named for Scott Adams, a 13-year-old Kingsport skateboarder who was killed by a car when he tried to retrieve a skateboard that had rolled onto Stone Drive. His parents, Jackie and Mike Adams, were at the forefront of the effort to get a skatepark built, and it became a community project with wide-ranging involvement: The space came from Weyerhaeuser Company, which gave back to Kingsport some of the land at Cloud Park. The money came from a variety of sources: $20,000 was raised in three months alone in private donations; the City of Kingsport gave $150,000; another $40,000 came in a Community Development Block Grant; $10,000 came from the Tony Hawk Foundation; the Spirit Campaign donated $100,000; another $10,000 came from the Kingsport Rotary Club.
And what did it all add up to? A park that has two bowls, one with a 12-foot drop-in, as well as a streetscape course that features steps and a grinding rail. In back of the concrete park are dirt moguls, an extra for BMX bikers. Kingsport architect Tony Moore designed the park with input from various sources, including area skaters.
“I think we’ll have a huge turnout as far as usage, and not just locally,” said Kitty Frazier, director of Kingsport Parks and Recreation. “We’ve kept in mind too that there will be other users, not just skateboarders. We’ve tried to accommodate that for multiple use, and we hope that the users will be respectful of each other.”
On the Monday before the park’s official opening, Ball and skateboarder Casey Carter were among a group of eight or nine skaters and riders hanging out at Down to Earth, a skateboard shop merely a stone’s throw from the park on the opposite side of Center Street.
They’ve got good reason to be anxious for the grand opening; both Ball and Carter have been ticketed by police for being on bike or board on a downtown sidewalk.
“For the size they have, it’s pretty well-equipped,” said Carter, a Dobyns-Bennett senior who works at Down to Earth. “There’ll be people from all over who’ll come to check it out.”
Ball, from Colonial Heights, has gotten used to toting his BMX to cities outside the area — Louisville, Ky., is a popular destination because it has the biggest park in the country.
“This’ll give kids something to get involved in,” Ball said. “If you’re not into the typical sports, the typical school organizations, then there’s not much to do around here.”
Woods will certainly echo that sentiment.
“Kids are just so bored — beyond belief,” Woods said. “And boredom is the No. 1 cause of mischief. The more a kid has something to do, the more they’re occupied, the less trouble they’re going to get into.
“This is something that’s just fun. You can hang out with your friends. Unlike football or basketball, it’s a sport where you’re not getting yelled at by a coach or a parent. There’s just total freedom. It’s just the feel of freedom.”
In the past, Woods said he and friends would gravitate from place to place with their boards, staying until they got kicked out and had to move on. But not anymore.
“The first few weeks, I’ll probably spend the three hours of daylight I have off of work and most Saturdays and Sundays there,” Woods said. “The Knoxville park was nice — it was a little bit bigger — but Kingsport’s looks good and it’s got easier access.
“And it’s free. You can’t beat free.”