Feature Article - January/February 2002
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Rolling Ahead

New skate parks and inline facilities learn from past mistakes

By Stacy St. Clair


Building a good facility
PHOTO COURTESY OF A. RAUL DELERME
Skater demand spurred the development of the
new inline hockey facility at Alpha Ridge Park
in Howard County, Maryland.

Municipalities and park districts brave enough to take the plunge building a skate park or inline rink need not do it by themselves. Actually, they don't even have to be the leader on the project.

Almost every community has a group of skaters who feel disenfranchised because they have been banned from jumping obstacles on downtown sidewalks or from commandeering parking lots for pick-up hockey games. It's not uncommon for these kids to appear at the occasional council and commission meetings imploring officials for facilities to call their own or at least less restrictive skating laws.

Many towns have found great success after taking the skaters up on their offer and challenging them to help raise the money for the project. This usually is done after forming a committee consisting of parents, skaters and local school officials. Some cites also have asked area skate shop owners for input because they most likely are the people who best understand the sport and its local popularity.

The ad-hoc group traditionally is placed in charge of fund-raising efforts, a method used by officials to gauge the whether interest in the park and/or rink is sincere. The speed with which the group hustles for dollars and donations is often good indication about how much they want the facility.


Making a List
Five things to consider when planning your parks and rinks

Create a zero-tolerance policy for graffiti. If you see graffiti—and you will—remove it immediately. If it's up for more than 24 hours, it's up too long. Taggers (a.k.a. graffiti artists) love to see others gawking at their work. To deter them, some operators shut their facilities until the graffiti is removed. You don't have to be that extreme, but you must have a plan. If there's one truth in skate parks, it's graffiti begets more graffiti.

Be careful when you remove graffiti. Sandblasting definitely will remove the paint, but it also removes some of the cement making it rough and unskatable. Waterblasting is more concrete friendly but only should be used as a last resort. Instead, operators should consider the many spray-on removers sold at hardware stores.

Consider adding a viewing area for fans and parents to sit and watch. If the X-Games have proven anything, they've shown skateboarding to be a fantastic spectator sport. The area should be separated from the park by either a fence or large space. You can provide either benches or a grassy sitting area. A word of caution: If you install benches, make sure they're securely fastened to the ground. Otherwise, clever skaters surely will move them and skate them.

Install a pay phone. Many of your patrons will be too young to have a driver's license. They'll need to call mom and dad when they're ready to be picked up.

Get to know your skaters. The more respect you show your young patrons, the more respect they'll show your facility. Consider hosting local tournaments, demonstrations and classes. Hire a DJ to play music on occasional weekends.

SOURCE: SKATE PARK ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES AMERICA