Skate park forum brings promises of flips, jumps and unique course
Fourteen-year-old skater Sam Willis knows exactly what he wants in a skatepark.
“Lots of rails,” he said, including some at least 30 feet long so he can “do more tricks in one trip.”
Willis might get what he wants, and then some.
More than 100 skateboard advocates, some with their parents in tow, attended Wednesday’s forum on Charleston County’s skatepark planned for downtown Charleston.
Designer Tito Porrata of Team Pain Enterprises said the final offering will “represent all the skateboard disciplines.”
Some in the crowd gave outs “oohs” and “whoas” when they saw slide-show examples of some of the moguls, bowls, walls, steps and hurdles Porrata has planned.
Some of the bowls, which are swimming-pool-like designs, are expected to be 12 feet deep or more.
Other design concepts include street and plaza layouts, a “snake” course, competition zones, ramps and ledges.
One stretch could be as long as 520 feet.
The county’s skatepark has been on the drawing board for some time and will be built downtown at Meeting and Huger streets beneath the overpasses connecting Interstate 26 and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. It is scheduled to open in Spring 2014.
When completed, the $2 million park will be the largest in the state at up to 40,000 square feet. Officials hope it will become a regional draw for competitions and other events.
Porrata promised that the final product will accommodate skaters of all levels, from beginner to expert.
“It’s got to be for a skater that’s not been born yet,” he said of the course’s expected longevity.
Still, there were many unanswered questions that attendees brought up that need to be addressed as the project goes forward. Yet to be decided are entrance fees, safety equipment requirements, such as pads and helmets, and how might BMX-type cycling be incorporated.
One of the biggest cheers came up after one man in the audience suggested drinking water fountains be added to help skaters during Charleston’s oppressive heat waves.
“Have to be able to skate at night,” said another man who endorsed lights and longer hours.
Most liked what they heard. “I think it’s large enough to interest a whole lot of people,” said Gretchen Keller, of Johns Island, a mother of two skaters.
Skater Menkaure Vandross, 15, of Charleston, said having a dedicated park will make practicing his hobby easier than having to skate city streets.
“It’s been hard for me to find good places to hit up,” he said, adding that he wants obstacles like banks, stairs and grind rails.
Parks officials said responses to questionnaires asking about the design, availability of skating lessons, equipment rentals, concessions and other areas will be reviewed to see how they might fit.
“You are going to have the most awesome skatepark anywhere,” Tom O’Rourke, executive director of Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, promised the crowd.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.