Feature Article - February 2008
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Ride the New Wave

Skatepark Terrain for the 21st Century

By Kate Bongiovanni


Don't let the weather halt the building process of a skatepark. While skateparks can be used year long thanks to durable surfaces and low maintenance requirements, it's possible to build a park in the winter to have it set for primetime when the ground thaws.

Take the skatepark being built at Pine Hill Recreation Area in Washington Township, Penn., for example. While temperatures hovered around freezing, park construction didn't need to stop. In December, workers were installing the concrete structures that will comprise the park by using blowtorches to melt the ice in sub-freezing weather and hauling in pre-manufactured pieces. In this case, five trucks of parts were unloaded for the Pine Hill park, according to Jerry Zeigler, Washington Township Code Enforcement Officer.

Not only does the precast method keep production in full swing, but it also can help cut down on costs. The Pine Hill project is expected to cost approximately $218,000 with funds donated mostly by local residents, and concrete skatepark structures are typically more expensive than other options.

Material possessions

When it comes to building a skatepark, you'll tend to see three types of prevalent materials: concrete, wood and steel. Factors such as budget, mobility, maintenance and skater experience all come into play.

As Skaters for Public Skateparks explains, the indestructible nature and warranty promise of steel ramps make them popular with city officials but leave skateboarders unhappy due to heated surfaces that cause burns, sharp edges and dulling surfaces. Wood can be used for mobile parks, especially to serve as a park when a permanent structure is being built. And the most prevalent material that skateboarders ride is concrete, seen in pop culture magazines and videos and simulating a ride in the streets.

"As far as maintenance, concrete—custom or modular concrete—generally requires the least amount of maintenance or repair, while modular equipment has many individual parts that are held together by fasteners, nuts and bolts, that need to be checked regularly," Vukovich said. "If the skatepark is outdoors and its ramps are wooden, the maintenance will be much more of an issue than with concrete."