The Skatepark Decision, Part 1

Editor’s note: Parks & Rec Business magazine presents the first part of The Skatepark Decision, a year-long series of articles exploring the growing demand for municipal and regional skateparks. The series will cover The Skatepark Decision, from planning to implementation, and everything in between. We’ll profile skateparks from around the country and offer new perspectives and ideas on The Skatepark Decision. If you have something you’d like to see covered in this series, please let us know. If you have a unique skatepark or have found ways to make skateparks work best for your community, drop us a line at

Our staff had received numerous phone calls from parents and skaters asking for help from the district to install a skate park in our community.

The Glen Ellyn Park District serves approximately 35,000 residents, and skaters were increasing annually as the sport grew in popularity.

The skaters did not have a designated area to skate in, so they used whatever they could find to grind, jump or ride on. This was not very popular in our community, as damage from the skaters increased, as did the calls asking for a park to use for their skating.

Our staff met with residents in 1998 to discuss the possibility of the Board approving the use of funds to build a skatepark in Glen Ellyn.


We discussed skateparks in general — size, budgeting, design, supervision and location — and research was provided from staff to the residents in March of 1998.

Staff found valuable materials from articles in magazines, skatepark manufacturer Web sites, and the International In-line Skating Association at, to name a few.

Information was also obtained by attending seminars about skateparks put on by various skate equipment companies in our area.

I also contacted as many companies as possible and reviewed their equipment brochures. Staff then compared all of the equipment as far as construction methods and materials.

Our staff decided which ones would hold were constructed the best and would hold up better in our region with the harsh winters.

We wanted the ramps and rails to be semi-permanent, so kids would not be able to move the equipment around. Some of the ramps are easy to move if you have some tools.

After researching what professional skaters preferred to skate on we chose to use Skate Lite Pro on all of the ramps. This appeared to be used most widely in the skating industry.

Wood frame construction vs. metal frames, or concrete ramps was a tough decision. All appeared to be viable options, and all would last for years of use, but cost would determine our project as concrete was almost twice the cost to install.

After some research, and many phone calls to local park districts, it was clear most district picked wood frame construction, with a Skate Lite Pro surface.

It was evident that noise created from the metal frames of the ramps, and the extra costs made the choice of wood construction easier.

Location, Location, Location

The possible locations for the skatepark were discussed, including Newton, Maryknoll, Ackerman and Memorial Park (which is located across from the high school) or an abandon lumberyard next to the railroad tracks in downtown.

Newton Park is centrally located in town with no major roads to cross and not many homes surrounding it, which was one of the deciding factors for the skatepark’s location.

Newton already had an area designated for in-line skating that was about 180′x 80′ that was not being used very much at all. The park district had tried several times unsuccessfully to program the skate rink for in-line hockey, but the classes never became a reality as the programs had to be cancelled due to lack of enrollment.

At the same time, A Glenbard South student approached the local YMCA with 400 signatures petitioning them to build a skate park. We met with the Director of the YMCA to discuss the possibility of joining forces and build the skatepark together.

The YMCA was very interested in combining, but did not have the funding nor the land to take on a project of this magnitude.

The YMCA was considering removing its outdoor racquetball courts, but it would have been too costly.

At this point neither the YMCA nor the park district could commit to funding this project, as estimates were as high as $500,000 for a complete skate facility.

During the next two years staff had several meetings with residents, while the Glen Ellyn Park District Board of Commissioners worked on budgeting and a permanent location of the skatepark.

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  1. The Skatepark Decision, Part 8
  2. Skatepark in Action
  3. Fearless Flyers Go Vertical
  4. Creating A Skatepark
  5. All Smiles
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