The local skateboarding community has begun sharing its wish lists for a future regional skate park in Charlottesville.
At a workshop hosted Tuesday by the city, design firm Stantec picked the brains of more than 60 participants for their feedback and creative ideas.
Skateboarders have spent the past year in a temporarily downsized facility while making way for construction of the Meadow Creek Parkway interchange. On Tuesday they offered ideas for their future expanded skating grounds being built in the eastern portion of McIntire Park.
“The new park will look like a big plaza area where people will come, hang out, eat lunch and look around,” said local skateboarder Duane Brown. “It will look nice to the average person, not just a skateboarder.”
Brown said he remembered asking the City Council for a skate park as a teenager in the 1980s, and later seeing the city’s first official skate park open in 1998. He is now the longest standing member of Charlottesville’s Skate Park Advisory Committee, a group at the helm of this project made of up skateboarders and parents.
He said the skate park that the community envisions is modern and green and will blend with surrounding features of the park such as existing trees, walking trails and a future botanical garden.
Members of Charlottesville’s Derby Dames were present to say they want to see at least some area of the skate park that is accessible for rollerskates.
Andrew Ntenda, who said he has been skateboarding for three years, said he wants to see something comparable to skate parks he visited in Northern Virginia that have a “flow” design.
“I’d like an opportunity for areas where you can just jump in and pump around once, then keep a steady flow,” Ntenda said. Others wanted to see areas where up to 30 skateboarders can skate together at once.
Two “action sport” designers from Stantec, Mike McIntyre and Kanten Russell, a former professional skateboarder, were receptive to the design ideas offered.
McIntyre and Russell said they will use the preferences presented at the workshop to create a variety of design options for the space, to be fine-tuned at future public meetings. The first concepts will be posted this week on an online forum that will be open to feedback and additional comments.
“Our goal is to utilize our experiences and backgrounds and get feedback,” Russell said. “We want something cool, creative and unique for Charlottesville.”
Vic Garber, Charlottesville’s recreation division manager, said he is looking forward to seeing what comes out of the firm’s reciprocal design process with the local skateboarders. He says many decisions — from whether to allow BMX biking to the placement of amenities — are in the hands of the community.
“It will be totally citizen driven,” Garber said. “What happens in this public process will drive the size and scope of the skate park.”
Stantec has a portfolio of more than 200 skate parks in the United States, Europe and Canada, including ADA-accessible and environmentally sensitive designs. Following the public process, Stantec will provide a final design, estimated construction cost and a stormwater plan for the new skate park.
The city will then bid out the building contract for the project, with construction beginning as early as this fall.
Garber estimated there are more than 2,000 active skateboarders in the region who will make use of the park, and that it also would attract skaters from Virginia Beach, Fredericksburg and areas outside of Virginia.
Besides two acres allocated to the new skate park, the city’s master plan for the eastern half of McIntire Park includes the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial, the botanical garden and pedestrian access over the railroad tracks.
The PLACE Design task force, an advisory body to the city on issues of urban design, will meet at noon Thursday in City Hall to discuss a holistic vision for the eastern portion of McIntire Park.
Although the purpose of Tuesday’s workshop was to think big for the skate park, Russell said the final designs will align with the master plan for the park.