Public input sought on skatepark plan

 si-skate plan-0515Skateboarders could be practicing pops and fakies at a new skatepark on North Park Drive as early as fall.

Construction is expected to begin this spring or summer.

Enthusiasts at a public input design meeting Tuesday night were expected to hear comments from a representative from Pillar Design Studio and see concept drawings.

“The idea of the public input session was to give skaters ideas, a starting point,” said Deborah Stam, director of community development for Salisbury.

“The design company wanted to know what they like and don’t like. They wanted to take input from skaters and see what they want, within the constraints of our budget, because everybody always wants the Taj Mahal but there is only so much money,” she said.

Adira Construction Inc., based in Virginia, will build the park, in partnership with Pillar Design Studios in Arizona and Artisan skate park designers.

The plan is to complete it in two phases.

During Phase I, 6,000 square feet will be built and include a bowl and various street and transition elements, Stam said in a press release issued by her office, and by Bobby Schaller, president of the skatepark committee.

Phase II will have an additional 8,000 square feet and include “numerous street and transition elements,” she said.

Once completed, the park will feature fencing, benches, trash cans, a bicycle rack and two portable restrooms.

Money for Phase I is from two grants, from the Community Parks & Playgrounds division of the Department of Natural Resources, and from the Tony Hawk Foundation. Hawk is a professional skateboarder whose foundation awards small grants. The city received $5,000 from that foundation and another $12,000 was raised.

The total is $279,000.

Grant applications for the second phase were not funded this year, Stam said, but will be resubmitted to DNR for Community Parks & Playgrounds funds, and to the Wicomico County Recreation Commission for Program Open Space funds, this summer.

Members of the skatepark committee will raise matching funds.

Stam characterized the completed facility as a “one-of-a kind, poured-in-place, artisan-built concrete skatepark” with an expected lifespan of at least 30 years thanks to durability and low maintenance of concrete.

She said it will be “hugely beneficial to the youth of our community.”

“This project will serve to expand the commitment that our community has made to our local youth, by providing yet another amenity to serve their health, social and recreational needs,” she said.

Agreeing, Mayor Jim Ireton said the city “needs to stick by its skateboarding residents.”

“We are moving forward and will soon have a facility for them,” he said.

The next closest skateparks are in Ocean Pines and Ocean City, the latter which charges a fee, a drawback for young skaters with no transportation and little money.

Talk about building a skate park in Salisbury dates back to 2007.

City officials and committee members “have been working hard toward the goal of providing a public skatepark for our local youth that is free of charge, so that they may continue to enjoy what is becoming an increasingly popular sport,” Stam said.

Jake Day, president of the city council, said interest in a skate park is one reason he ran for office.

“For almost eight years our city had funds available to build it and the kids and families were clamoring for it, and we continually resisted it,” Day said. The committee, composed of citizens and veteran skaters, was incorporated in 2008.

“Now, we are going to implement it,” he said, laughing at the memory of wanting to be a skateboarder when he was in middle school, but finding he wasn’t skilled at it.

“It’s one of the reasons I got interested in public leadership,” Day said.

Reach Susan Canfora at SCanfora@newszap.com.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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