Gridline Skateparks manager unveils blueprints for two Newark skate spots
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
Local skateboarders have usually found their ramps, rails and stairs in private parking lots on campus and throughout the city. However, because of an upcoming project, Tyler Jacobson, owner of Switch Snow & Skate, said Newark skateboarders will have what they have wanted all along––a safe, public place to skate.
“For years, we as skateboard advocates have been pushing Newark to develop a skate spot,” alumnus Jacobson said. “Our hope is that by developing a skate spot, we can give kids a place to participate in a hobby they really, really enjoy.”
Newark residents filled the George Wilson Center on Wednesday to hear Micah Shapiro, lead designer and sales manager of Grindline Skateparks, unveil the blueprints and details of two skate spots that will be built in Newark this year. The two spots, which will be constructed in Phillips Park, located at the end of B Street and Handloff Park, off Barksdale Road, will each offer 3,000 square feet to locals looking for a public place to skate.
Not only did locals have the opportunity to learn more about the skate spots, but Shapiro also held a forum in which local skateboarders could offer their insight about the designs. Throughout the workshop on Wednesday, locals deliberated, offering suggestions of what alterations they would like to see.
Several Newark skateboarders chimed in, often incorporating inspiration from local rails and stairs in their ideas. The parks should not only tailor to Newark skaters, but should also be a place they can enjoy in the long term, multiple people said.
“I’m here to collaborate with you guys for what the best things for Newark is,” Shapiro said. “We are going to keep the designs cutting edge, but also make something timeless, interesting and something you’re not bored of in five years.”
Additionally, Shapiro said the parks will utilize “the latter of progression,” meaning the parks will accommodate skaters of a multitude of skill levels, including beginners.
Shapiro also said because the parks are accessible and centrally located in Newark, locals will also be able to walk or skate there.
Amidst the murmurs of wall rides, A-frame rails and ramps, Charlie Emerson, director of Newark Parks & Recreation, said the attendees’ contributions taught him a lot.
“I learned a whole new vocabulary tonight,” Emerson said.
Within driving distance, there are several skate spots, including one located in Glasgow Park on Rt. 40, Jacobson said. For younger skateboarders still unable to drive, the skate spots in Newark will be more accessible than other skateparks, he said.
“To have these spots in downtown Newark in skating distance will be special because it will allow younger kids to come out and skate,” Jacobson said.
Previously, Newark Parks & Recreation struggled to implement a public skate spot due to insurance conflicts, Emerson said, but after doing some research, he noticed skateboarding is no more likely to cause injury than more traditional sports such as basketball or soccer.
Providing locals with more areas to be active is a potential benefit of the parks, Emerson said. The whole purpose of Parks & Recreation is to provide the community with locations to exercise, even in increasingly popular activities such as skateboarding, he said.
“Obesity is a serious problem and this is one more thing we can do to help out,” Emerson said.
The design for the project will be finalized on April 1, Shapiro said, and construction tentatively begins over the summer. By August, Shapiro said he hopes Newark will have its first public and free skate spots.
The budget for the parks is $140,000, with $40,000 of the total coming from an anonymous donor. For the parks to be better, Jacobson said more fundraising would help tremendously, and as an alumnus, he would also like to see students who may be interested in skateboarding get involved, especially after seeing how energized students are in fundraising activities such as UDance.
“I am hoping UD will be willing to help,” Jacobson said. “I think we’ll find when these are built, frequent users will be students.”
Overall, the skate spot is something the university could benefit from, Jacobson said. To freshmen interested in skateboarding, local skate spots could potentially sway students into applying, Jacobson said.
As someone who started skateboarding in Newark 20 years ago, he said he struggled to find places to skate that were not on the university’s property.
“I think the biggest benefit of having a free place to skateboard is kids who grow up with skate spots aren’t going to be forced to skate on public property,” he said. “In theory, they won’t have as much trouble with the law enforcement when it becomes less of a criminalized activity.”
Because the university is heavily patrolled, skating on campus often leads to trouble with the law, Jacobson said, and it is tempting to blame a young skateboarder for violations.
The park could also generate interest in an activity that is becoming more popular on a yearly basis, Jacobson said. Once it is constructed, he said the park will be a place where people can meet on a common interest.
“I can come home from work and skate by myself or with friends,” Jacobson said. “Skateboarding itself builds community or companionship with other skateboarders.”