Design for skate park gets rolling

The master plan for the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission’s skateboard park will be modified, likely within the next 60 days. It is expected to open by next summer.

Shannon Smith and her family love skateboarding so much they drain their swimming pool at the end of the summer and ride in it the rest of the year.

Smith, 44, said she’s part of the group Pour it Now, which for years has been pushing for a new skate park in the area, and she’s thrilled one soon will open on Charleston’s upper peninsula.

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission earlier this month presented a preliminary master plan for the $4 million, 3-acre park for skateboarders in an industrial area on Oceanic Street.

“There was a lot of public input,” said Tom O’Rourke, the commission’s executive director, “and the end product will be different. We’re still in the design phase.”

Smith said the original design was pretty good, but there was overwhelming support to trade one of three “bowls” for a “snake run.” That type of run, which is popular with surfers, is like a long, curvy concrete ditch. “It’s kind of like an endless wave,” she said.

O’Rourke said the commission likely will have a modified master plan in about 60 days. And he expects the park to open by next summer.

Stabilization work on the site is going well, O’Rourke said.

The land previously had been used by a concrete company as a disposal site, he said. Work has to be done to pack down the chunks of concrete under the site’s surface, he said. That involved dumping “a mountain of dirt” on the land to pack it down. If that work isn’t done, the chunks could settle in the future, which would create cracks, O’Rourke said. “The dirt is sitting on the site now, and it’s doing its job.”

O’Rourke also said there were a lot of questions about operational issues at the master-plan meeting. Many people want to know if users will be required to wear helmets, he said. “Skaters don’t want this governmented up so bad it’s not fun.”

“We’re an agency that believes in safety, but we’re also an agency that believes in fun,” O’Rourke said. “I think helmets and pads will be required. The question is, will people be allowed to opt out?”

He also said there will be a charge to use the park, but he doesn’t yet know how much it will cost. “We’re not trying to make money, but we’re not trying to have the county subsidize the skate park.”

Ryan Cockrell, 37, Pour it Now’s executive director, said a good skate park has features for all ages and ability levels. And he thinks Charleston’s park will be a good park.

There definitely is a demand in the area for a park, he said. Skate boarders have created an impromptu “DIY park” under Interstate 26. “But I don’t think moms would bring their little kids there,” he said.

The new park will be a safe place for everyone, he said. “During peak times, it will be so crowded it will be hard to get a turn,” Cockrell said. “But that’s a good problem to have.”

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.