Feature Article - February 2008
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Ride the New Wave

Skatepark Terrain for the 21st Century

By Kate Bongiovanni

Community projects

For the Tony Hawk Foundation, its grants help fund skatepark projects across the country, giving citizens in underserved areas the opportunity to enjoy a skatepark. Since the foundation's inception in 2002, more than $2 million has been awarded to 365 communities in the United States, and 200 of those skateparks are already open. Vukovich said the foundation's technical assistance program helps review grant applications while providing guidance and feedback to those building public skateparks.

"Skateparks accomplish a number of goals for a community," Vukovich said. "First and foremost, they serve an underserved population of active teens primarily who are forced to skate on the streets where they compete for space with automobiles, or in front of area businesses whose owners kick them out. Skateparks address the shift in focus among young Americans from traditional team sports to individual sports—skateboarding has grown exponentially over the past five or six years while traditional sports are actually losing participants. So communities are making that shift in their resources to address the skaters' needs."

The Paine's Park project in Philadelphia stemmed from the popularity of skateboarding in Love Park—where it's not legal to skate. "The goal initially of the project was to create a free outdoor space skateboarders could use," Bracali said. Bracali became interested in the project after seeing skateboarders on television explain skateboarding in a downtown setting, which helped him see the sport in a setting beyond competition style like the X Games.

Whether it's a street-style plaza that invites skaters and pedestrians alike or a concrete wonder that invites hard-core skaters, skaters will thank you for working with them to create a place to skate legally, and safely.

What You Need to Know

When it comes to skatepark design and development, one resource to consult is The Public Skatepark Development Guide. A collaboration between the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC), Skaters for Public Skateparks and the Tony Hawk Foundation, this A-to-Z guidebook to building a skatepark is sent out to 2,500 parks and recreation departments across the country.

John Bernards, the executive director of the IASC, said it serves as an instruction manual to building a skatepark. "It's a guide for how to go about building a park, who to go to in the city, what your steps have to be," he explained.

It also includes detailed information, down to the terrain and the types of cement to use. "It gets very technical when it gets to the building of it," Bernards said.

Free for city officials and skatepark advocates—you only need to cover the cost of shipping—the guide directs you to the proper resources, explains the need for a quality skatepark, and covers industry statistics, building tips and successful ways to open and manage the facility. It's written by top skateboard advocates and provides explanations in an easy-to-follow format, complete with illustrations, pictures, forms and worksheets, for skatepark aficionados of all ages. This guide for skatepark advocates became available for the first time in 2007.

For more information or to order a copy, check out www.skateparkguide.org.