Newark announces plans to construct skate spots
City officials say construction to begin within the next year
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 02:04
City officials recently announced plans to build two or three skate spots, which are small skateboarding areas, in city parks within the next year, creating a legal place to ride within city limits.
Charlie Emerson, director of Newark’s Park and Recreation department, said Fairfield Park, located off New London Road, and Phillips Park, located south of West Park Place, are two of five potential locations for the skate spots.
Emerson said he feels now is the appropriate time to grant the longstanding requests of numerous city residents.
“We have had requests throughout the years,” Emerson said. “A lot of people expressed a sincere interest in building skate spots.”
Approximately 1,300 skateboarders, ranging from five to 24 years old, live in Newark, according to Emerson.
“With that many skaters, there is a definite need for a solution,” he said. “Skaters are prohibited from skating on sidewalks and are restricted from many areas.”
Kyle Hultberg, an employee at Switch Skate and Snow on Main Street, said he is an active skateboarder and is looking forward to the skate spots’ construction
“The fact that they have a plan is awesome, and geared to building a community where kids can go park to park and do what they are passionate about—skating,” Hultberg said.
Emerson said he predicts that construction will begin either this year or in early 2013. The proposed skate spots will feature low rails, steps and benches, and will vary in cost depending on their size. Emerson estimated they will cost a minimum of $30,000 each.
Emerson said some conflict about the location of the skate spots exists between residents and city officials.
“There isn’t a whole lot of opposition,” Emerson said. “Most of the population understands the need. Mostly there is controversy over location. Some people don’t want it near their homes, while others do.”
Matt Brannon, who has worked at Switch Skate and Snow and is originally from California, said he cannot understand the opposition.
“I’ve lived on the West Coast. There, you can skate everywhere because of all the facilities provided,” Brannon said. “Here, you can’t skate on campus, on sidewalks, nowhere. I can’t skate anywhere around town.”
Hultberg said that with the construction of the skate spots, he expects skating at illegal spots and legal ramifications for doing so to drop.
“When skateboarders see a ledge, they have an instinct to whip out their skateboard,” Hultberg said. “Kids are constantly arrested and banned from locations due to the lack of permitted skating spots.”
Hultberg said he doesn’t endorse the negative stigma he feels is often attached to skateboarding.
“I think some people don’t understand the skating community,” he said. “Personally, I don’t understand what is so difficult to understand. Basketball courts, tennis courts, they are everywhere. And the sports are just as rough as skating is. Skateboarding is not a bad thing. Throughout the years, skateboarding has gotten a bad name, but we are not bad people.”
Emerson said the city plans to hire a firm and collaborate with local skateboarders to design these facilities.
Hultberg said that the construction of the skate spots will bring unexpected benefits to Newark.
“People will be surprised at how much of a success the building of these skate spots will be,” he said.