Skateboarder Tony Hawk makes $25,000 gift to city skate park

Charlottesville’s much-anticipated skate park is already “landing tricks” with skateboarding legends.

This week, the city received a congratulatory call from professional skater Tony Hawk. According to city officials, Hawk said Charlottesville’s grant application to the Tony Hawk Foundation was “by far the best application” and he was happy to award $25,000 toward the cost of construction of the skate park planned for McIntire Park.

The skate park, which is planned for a 2-acre area in the southwest corner of the park, is also nearing the end of the design approval process by the city’s Neighborhood Development Services office. The design of the park is expected to be top-of-the-line and draw tourists to Charlottesville.

“It will be a destination location,” said Vic Garber, recreation division manager for the city. “It will drive the economy. It will put heads on beds and put people in restaurants. It’s going to be amazing to see what this will do for Charlottesville and for Central Virginia.”

Duane Brown, a local skater and member of the Skate Park Advisory Board, anticipates skaters from all over the East Coast will come to visit Charlottesville’s park.

“Skaters are pretty renowned for traveling to other parks in other places,” Brown said. “When you compare this design to other parks in Virginia and in the neighboring states, this is the best design by far. If this gets built, it will blow everything out of the water.”

“It’s a world-class skate park for a world-class city,” he said.

The park was planned through a citizen-driven process over the past two years, led by designers Kanten Russell and Mike MacIntire of Stantec Inc. Russell, a former professional skater, was able to relate to the local skateboarders, Garber said.

“They are the best of the best in their field,” Garber said.

Features of the skate park include a plaza that will host music and special events and a more challenging bowl area. A restroom will serve the park, and all areas will be ADA accessible.

Located to the south of the planned botanical gardens in McIntire Park, the skate park will be built to visually match the colors and materials planned as part of the McIntire Park Master Plan.

“We’ve worked to maximize connectivity and have a consistent look throughout the park,” said Chris Gensic, the city’s parks and trails planner.

City staffers have made efforts to protect the natural areas around the skate park as much as possible. A landscaped stormwater retention pond will collect and filter most of the water that falls on the 30,000 square feet of paved spaces at the park. Efforts also have been made to protect the trees surrounding the skating areas.

“We’re doing our utmost to make sure we stay away from the critical root zones of the beautiful big oaks around the park,” Garber said. “That’s one of the great assets of this area. The big shade trees create the perfect place for socialization, for families to come and picnic and watch the skaters show off their skills.”

The grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation provides only a small portion of the total funds needed to build the park. The estimated cost of the skate park and nearby infrastructure improvements totals $1.6 million.

The parks and recreation department plans to host several special events and to petition local supporters to help contribute to the cost of the park.

“We hope to work with the city, [Albemarle] County and individual sponsors, partners and donors who truly want to see this come to fruition,” Garber said.

Anyone interested in assisting with fundraising efforts can contact the parks and recreation department at (424) 970-3260 for more information.