Feature Article - February 2010
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Riding High

Getting Skateparks Done Right

By Stacy St. Clair

5 Keys to Skatepark Success

Hire an expert: When designing your park, it's great to get input from the skaters who will use it. But don't let them be your only source. You wouldn't let your town's Little League all-stars design the new ballpark would you? Skatepark designers know the best materials, latest trends and hippest features. It's worth extra money to hire them.

Program it: The old adage says once you build it, they will come. That'll work for the people who already know how to skate. But what about the others? Hold classes, which will introduce the pastime to the next generation and ensure the park's usage for years to come.

Make it comfortable: Making the facility comfortable and inviting for users sends a message that the skaters are welcome and wanted. A comfortable environment—with benches, shade, water fountains and other amenities—sets an important tone for the facility and will encourage skaters to take care of the park. An uncomfortable environment sets a darker tone, leaving the venue susceptible to graffiti, littering and other degradation.

Make it accessible: Placing the park in a remote area limits its usage and allows it to fall into disrepair more easily. By locating a park in a more public area, you increase its attractiveness and make it a community activity. The most engaging, socially sustainable skateparks reside where the whole community can enjoy them.

Set the rules: Like anyplace where teens gather, adults may find fault with the skaters' behavior or language. In order to address bad behavior, you must have a clear policy that addresses it. One cannot enforce a rule that doesn't exist. When new rules are set, make sure they're explained to skaters or else they will seem to magically appear and breed resentment. All policies should explicitly state what will happen to the offender if a particular number of infractions continue. Signs and posters outlining the rules should be posted around the park. Any changes to the policies should be immediately changed on the signage as well.