Feature Article - January 2004
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Homes for Boarders and Bikers

Ultimate skate park designs for style, safety and performance

By Kyle Ryan

Extra features

Depending on budgetary limits, nonskating items can make the park more self-contained and comfortable for users. Some are obvious, such as lights if the park has extended hours. Others, such as locking skateboard racks, might not be.

Water fountains are surprisingly often overlooked by skate park planners. Over the past 30 years, the athletic community has learned the importance of proper hydration, and skaters are no exception. Whether it's winter or summer, they will get dehydrated, which can be potentially serious. Make sure potable water is available.

Vending machines with sports drinks and other beverages or snacks help, too. They require little maintenance and can generate revenue for the park while making it more self-contained. For food, some parks have snack bars or concession stands as well. A prefabricated shelter to get skaters out of the sun while they eat can be purchased relatively cheaply.

Nature will inevitably call the skaters, so bathrooms can be good investments. If the budget is lean, portable toilets may do the trick.

The accumulation of garbage is another inevitability. Because they could be used by skateboarders as obstacles, trashcans need to be secured to the ground away from the skating area if you want them to stay usable.

A perimeter fence to delineate the skating area itself will help keep small children and animals out, and it will help keep errant skateboards from leaving the park. Beyond the fence, consider benches for a viewing area. Watching the skate park activity can be entertaining, and benches will give parents a place to relax as their kids skate. The benches also need to be secured to the ground, as skaters will use them as obstacles if possible.

Another overlooked skate park component is the pay phone. Even though cell phones are nearly ubiquitous, users still need a reliable way to make calls, especially during an emergency.

If the skate park is part of a larger recreational facility, like Mount Trashmore or the Stonewave SK8 Park, skaters might want a way to secure their boards if they need to go somewhere. A new product makes that possible. Essentially a bike rack for skateboards, you can add a rack that uses two low-rising types of U-shaped metal tubing that's bolted to the ground. Boards fit between the taller and shorter tubes, with the shorter tubes fitting between the skateboard's trucks. The rack secures up to six skateboards through interlocking metal rings. The rings, when padlocked, prevent the board from being raised out of the rack, and the smaller tubing between the skateboard's trucks prevents someone from sliding the board out horizontally.

While these types of features are nice, they aren't critical to the success of the park. You have to make those choices based on your budget.

"Every dollar spent on nonramps is just what it is," Hines says. "The purpose of a skate park is to provide ramps to skate, not buildings and bathrooms. Any kid will vote for a ramp, not a bathroom."