Most skaters and trick bikers would love to have a skate park in their own backyard, or at least in their own community. You may be lucky enough to have a private entity build and operate the skate park. For most communities, however, getting a skate park started is an effort that involves members throughout the community, young and old alike.
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Start with a core group of concerned parents whose kids want a skate park in your town. Ask your child who their skater friends are, and then approach their parents. It'll be a real coup for your cause if you find parents for your core group who are also influential in town such as a prominent business owner, a former athlete or a member of the city council.
Involve youth of varying interests and socio-economic backgrounds. A skate park appeals not just to skateboarders, but also to BMX bikers and inline skaters, so all of their ideas and concerns need to be considered in planning.
Schedule an initial meeting to determine interest and build a committee. Announce the meeting using email, online forums in your community, notices to the media, and flyers posted and distributed in places your potential skate park users congregate.
Set up duties within your committee. Assign tasks like a petition drive, research of legal and liability issues, design, publicity and fundraising so everyone has something to work on between meetings.
Decide on a schedule for future meetings. Determine the time frame and deadlines you want to meet in getting a skatepark started, then set a regular meeting schedule, such as one meeting a month on a set day (the first Monday evening, for example).
Reach out to church leaders, members of your local law enforcement, non-profit organizations and leaders from your local business community to give brief presentations at your meetings. These are important civic figures to get involved in your campaign for a skate park.
Request being put on the agendas of planning and zoning meetings, as well as city council meetings, so you can address these bodies about your efforts.
Organization and Planning
Set the budget for your skate park. Consider proposals from the committee person researching skate park design to determine how much skate park you can afford or want to finance. You could start with a portable style park with easily movable but industrial-strength ramps, and other components that you can add on to as you have more funds. Or you could choose a more permanent wooden construction, or the permanent and most popular concrete structure that are considerably more costly, but more durable.
Be creative in your fundraising efforts by finding avenues for free publicity and utilizing the talents of your committee to raise money. Hold carwashes, bake sales and talk to local businesses about sponsorships. Hold a local skate exhibition to showcase the talents of your youth committee members, and invite local media for coverage or even ask a radio station to do a remote broadcast. Apply for a grant from your city's community development corporation or other entity.
Get fundraising updates at each meeting. Keep a poster or do web blasts to your committee members and the community to keep them posted on your fundraising efforts. Keep the community posted on your progress, too, and engage the public in a final push to hit your goal.
Scout the location for your park based on the type you want to build. For the portable kind of park, you need to buy the components, then approach the city about securing use of a large concrete area. If you want to go for the wooden or concrete construction, you'll need to look at a section of available land to buy or a piece of land the city already owns on which to build a public skate park.
Work with your city engineering department and designers by following city regulations to get your park built.
Stay involved as you watch your new community skate park come to life. Celebrate with a big opening when complete.
Design and Construction
Tips and warnings
- Hold meetings in a public place to establish a tone of neutrality. A wider range of people will be more likely to come to a meeting held at a community center, church fellowship hall, fire station community room or school than they will if meetings are held in someone's home.
- Keep meetings brief to encourage more people to come regularly. If someone knows they'll be out of your meeting in an hour or less, they'll be more willing to continue coming. But if they find that meetings are disorganized and run 2 hours or more each, you'll be lucky to get them to come back.
- Be prepared for strong push-back from those who don't want a skate park in their town. The stronger you work to start the skate park, the stronger the opposition will be from those in your community who don't want it to happen. Brainstorm in your meetings for strong points to use in overcoming those objections when they arise, because they will arise. Count on it.
- Avoid the temptation of spending money to make money. There are plenty of avenues for free publicity and promotion without having to pay for advertising or extravagant gatherings.