Building A Trend

Sandy Monahan, then a volunteer for Delhi Township Parks and Recreation, was asked to be responsible for 150 kids from the west side of Cincinnati, who wanted to attend a mobile skatepark series expo in that city. She realized there was a need in her own community for a permanent skate plaza.

“I also had a mom and a couple of her friends ask if we would look at putting in a skatepark,” says Monahan. “I began researching skate plazas and potential funding sources, as well as educating key people on the benefits of the skatepark.”

Overcoming Objections

Monahan later became the parks and recreation director, and pursued the skate plaza idea by engaging elected officials and the community to join in on the project.

“We did have some people with concerns. There are a lot of things said about skatepark kids that are inaccurate,” says Monahan. “I have found those kids to have more of an individual mind-set. They just have their own uniforms and ways of speaking.”

Finding Funding

After much research, Monahan applied for an Ohio Land and Water Conservation Grant but was turned down. She was then advised to let the grant roll into an Ohio NatureWorks Grant, and in 2006 she succeeded to the tune of $83,822. The grant was an 80/20 match, with Delhi Township Parks and Recreation Department matching 20 percent. The grand total for the skate plaza project was $111,822.

Builders Who Skate

Now came the hard part: learning what the kids who had been skating along curbs, handrails and steps of area businesses really wanted in a skate plaza. After all, there wasn’t much of a point in building a skate plaza if no one would use it. The township also needed something with low repair and maintenance costs.

“Nick Accurso, the owner of Anonymous Skateboard Shop, was instrumental in helping with the layout and design,” says Monahan. “We wanted to keep our skate plaza geared for the younger generation.”

“I jumped in and took Sandy around to successful and failing skateparks,” says Accurso. “The wooden ones just aren’t fun. A skatepark needs to feel like what the kids are used to skating on. It needs to be modeled after their favorite places.”

It was a tricky proposition–getting honest input from the kids. “We built a little model of what we thought the kids would want and then let them pick and choose,” says Accurso. “It is important that you have people who are skateboarders themselves involved in getting the input as well as building the design.”

Accurso also warns of trying to save money by having a street department crew build a skatepark. “Just because someone can pour concrete doesn’t mean that they know what needs to go into the creation of a skatepark,” says Accurso. “You really need to have a skatepark designer who understands the flow and the difference even one-sixteenth of an inch can make.”

Choosing A Company

Cincinnati-based Suburban Rails is a skatepark design and construction company owned and operated by skateboarders. Employees of the company were asked to bring their design expertise and knowledge to help create Delhi’s skate plaza.

“The best designs are based on what the kids are skating on,” says James O’Loughlin, designer with Suburban Rails. “We like to listen to the kids and add our expertise to make a design that is visually pleasing and works for the kids.”

“People don’t realize they can get three times the park by going with concrete versus modular,” says Lewis Ross, operations manager with Suburban Rails. “Plus you can have the skatepark custom-made and easily expandable.

Go with a company that has a good reputation with skateboarders, listens, and delivers on target.”

“You also want to go with someone who is truly concerned about meeting your needs, not in just making money off of you,” says Accurso. “Some companies just want to come and sell you the prefab products, which don’t hold up well, and when you need them to fix something or need expertise–they just aren’t there for you.”

Finding Funding

Suburban Rails recommends dedicating time and resources to learning how to raise money. They also suggest looking closely at in-kind donations from concrete companies and financial support from companies within the area.

Plus, don’t overlook the value of a great reference librarian who can help you tap into grants as well as understands the principles of grant writing.

Growing Pains

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