The Skatepark Decision, Part 1

After lengthy discussions everyone agreed on Newton Park’s in-line skating area, which already had an asphalt color-coated surface, perfect for the proposed facility.

Design & Build

During the capital project’s proposed budget meeting the Board of Commissioners approved a budget of $125,000 to build the skatepark. Our staff now had a location and funding for this project to proceed with.

Superintendent of recreation, Kathleen Esposito, contacted her committee, which she had been working with over the past several years, to get together once again and discuss what type of equipment the skaters preferred to skate on.

Staff had a meeting with residents, which was well attended, with more than 35 skaters of all ages. Many parents also attended the meeting.

We recorded all of the comments of the skaters and parents in regard to their preferences for ramps and rails. After tabulating the results staff went to work researching all of the various manufacturers for skating equipment.

Our staff asked the kids questions. Ten kids had an easel and wrote down all of their comments about ramps, rails, jumps, skateparks they enjoyed skating at, as well as rules for the local parks, and what type of safety equipment would be required.

The teens did not want us to have any rules or safety requirements like helmets, pads and wrist guards, but all require users to have on the safety equipment. It’s only enforced if your site is supervised, otherwise it is recommended by us that you wear it for your own safety.

Some of the comments included… Likes: quarter pipes, round rails, seating area, long speed bumps, bench/ledge, funboxes, kinked rails, banks and stationary in-ground rails. Dislikes: half-pipes take up too much space, no square rails, no BMX bikes, no pads, fees or supervision.

Staff contacted about eight different companies to design a skate park for Newton Park’s in-line hockey area. During this process staff had many decisions to make regarding this facility. These decisions included to supervise or not, to charge admission, whether or not to allow BMX bikes, or to put up fence around the facility to control access.

These were very tough decisions to make. We contacted several park districts that already had skate parks to see how things were going, what worked and what didn’t.

The Glen Ellyn Park District had decided to fence off the area and install a turnstile to keep bikes out of the facility. Having bikes and skateboarders together is a very dangerous situation. The difference is the speed of the bikes compared to skaters. If a collision were to take place the skater is most at risk to severe injury.

After a lengthy conversation with our insurance agency, PDRMA (Park District Risk Management Association), it was recommended that we not supervise the facility, which answered the next question of charging admission or not.

Staff decided not to charge admission since there was no supervision. Rules and regulations were posted according to PDRMA’s recommendations.

After receiving several plans from the leading skate park companies, staff presented the drawings to the skaters and parents. At this meeting the skaters discussed each company and the materials used in their equipment.

We were very impressed as to how much information the skaters had about each of the company’s equipment. The skaters knew exactly what they wanted in a design, and picked TrueRide’s concept design with a few changes.

We contacted the manufacturer with the suggested changes to the design. They made the changes to the design, which was advertised for bid in the spring of 2002.

The Glen Ellyn Park District received several bids back and TrueRide had won the bid at $109,000 for equipment delivery and installation.

The reasons for the changes were due to the input of the kids from the various meetings. The kids picked the types of ramps, jumps and rails.

These likes/dislikes were given to the manufacturer to incorporate into their final design. This proved to be a very good idea as the kids felt like they were heard, and the equipment we have is what they wanted in a skatepark.

The design appears to be very popular with the skaters, as we have received many compliments from skaters, and parents. The park is used quite heavily on a daily basis.

Dave Scarmardo is the Superintendent of Parks for the Glen Ellyn Park District.

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Related posts:

  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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