The past decade has seen an unprecedented rise in skatepark building across the country. It seems every town no matter how small has one, in fact I was looking at a Utah skatepark registry the other day and noticed that even Moab had one… crazy. This is not going to be a post on the good and bad of skateparks, Ill save that for another day. What this post will talk about is how skaters always need to be involved in the actual planning and building of skateparks. The idea of this post came when Boardistan posted the set up for the Maloof Money Cup set for the first week of June in Queens. When I first heard about the Maloof Cup being in the fountains at Flushing Meadows I thought it was a great idea. Then I found out that they were actually going to build a concrete park for the contest and leave it up as a permanent park when the weekend was done. That is even more amazing but then I thought of something .. What about the iconic ledge over the drainage grate.. would it be sacrificed for the new fancy park? Well taking one look at the layout I was happy to see right there listed as item of interest number 2 is “The Flushing Meadows Ledge Over Grate”. Now of course the Maloof Cup is known for interpreting iconic spots in their contest layouts but I was still pleased to see that the Grate which could have easily been taken out had been kept intact. Only Skaters would know and appreciate why this needs to be there. After all its not just history its a symbol NYC skateboarding rivaled in my mind only by the Brooklyn Banks. Skateboarders know what skateboarders want. This is the reason one of the most popular skateparks of all time is the DIY skater/bmx’er handmade park Burnside. Thats why skaters should always be involved in design.
Its easier in places with large budgets like NYC to have these Skater run companies come in and build/design a skatepark. Smaller places do not understand the value of such companies all they see are the dollar signs affixed to them. What smaller towns dont understand is that a poorly designed skatepark will be shunned by most of the skating community. Thats why on a small-town level it is crucial for city planners to accept input even from local skaters as to what works and what doesnt work in their proposed designs. Failure to research and find out such things by city officials results in skateparks with features such as this….
Really? I mean REALLY REALLY? WTF is anyone other than Richie Jackson, The Gonz, or Haslam supposed to do with this thing? Notice also that there is not a soul in the picture at the skatepark … thats 1point for me. Now Im sure that the City Council in the little town responsible for this abomination thinks that the tax payer money that went into this park was wasted. Why should they think anything different, there is no one there so obviously its money poorly spent. This will prevent any sort of future projects to be absolutely shot down without question and of course all the local kids are the real losers. Heres a few other examples locally of really atrocious design….
Take look at this ledge and rail. These are next to each other in another local park. Once again, REALLY!?, they seem a tad harsh dont you think? If thats not enough what you cant see is that the fence for this park is about 2 feet behind me. This gives you the ample room of about 3 feet to negotiate hitting either of these. This park is pretty much only populated by the BMX kids and thats to hit a spine thats not visible in this picture. You can see a few other elements of the park within the pictures and they also are only marginally useful. The park is well built structurally just ill planned from a usage standpoint. Again Im sure the City Council regards this as a failure and waste of money.
Now what happens when a community not only fails to get rider input on their park but also fails to understand the basics of park construction? Well my friends you come up with this scenario…
When built these two slabs of concrete were level. Not so anymore huh? In fact this entire park is made up of dozens and dozens of individual slabs all sinking to varying degrees creating ungodly bumps and cracks. Many of the local kids here have used a common skater trick and placed Bondo in many places hoping to lesson the severity of the ground. I actually come to this park from time to time because it has a C ledge that I like. However due to the massive amounts of slabs here its become nearly unridable as there is an intersection of four slabs just in front of it and of course each slab has sunk to a different level. Heres a pic of that …..
One final maddening thing about this park is the fence. If you ll notice in the picture above the fence is a bit off the surface of the slab. Well as fate would have it its just high enough for a skateboard to go under which is infuriating because then you have to go out one of the gates and walk around to go get your board. Poor design once again.
So to sum up, skaters out there especially in small towns need to take an active role in their communities park design. Go to City Council meetings and let them know that a poorly planned park will result in a waste of tax payer money. Cities do not need to shell out millions for a great park they just need to understand correct design concepts and apply them to the financial and structural constraints that they have. To all the heads of state. despots, and kings that read this listen to your constituents about what they would like to see in a local park and work with them because at the end of the day it is their park and they should have fun using it.