Summerville skateboarders moved a step closer this week to being able to engage in their hobby on their own turf.
Dorchester District 2 agreed to lease a piece of land about the size of a tennis court to the town for a skate park for five years.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Inland Skate and Surf owner Bill Ridenour. “It will be on the smaller side, but it’s a start. This way, business owners and police officers will have somewhere to tell the kids to go. It makes sense for everybody.”
More than 50 skaters attended a town recreation committee meeting in April to ask for the skate park. Ridenour and a horde of skaters began pushing for one more than 10 years ago.
“We were asked by a number of skateboarders and some of their parents to build a facility in Summerville,” said Mayor Bill Collins. “We don’t have one in town, and the idea is if your town doesn’t have a skate park, your town is a skate park. They just skate everywhere they can. It is hopeful that giving them a place to skate will curtail that activity all over town and will be safer for them.”
Charleston and Mount Pleasant already have skate parks, and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission is planning a $2 million, tournament-grade facility.
The lot, a small triangle bordered by South Magnolia, East Richland and the Berlin G. Myers Parkway, was given to the school district when the parkway was built, district Superintendent Joe Pye said. It includes an asphalt strip that was part of Magnolia Street before the parkway was built.
The lot is used occasionally for youth sports team practices and becomes a parking lot for about 10 vehicles during Summerville High School’s home football games at nearby Memorial Stadium.
“It’s very visible,” Pye said of the site. “It is a safe place to monitor.”
Collins said the town looked at several locations before settling on the site.
“We are pleased with the location because of its accessibility,” he said. Children can reach it via the Sawmill Branch Canal Trail; it is visible from the parkway; and the area is patrolled often by law enforcement.
Ridenour called it “the perfect site.”
Collins said no one has objected to the park.
“It’s not close to houses, so if there is noise, it shouldn’t bother anyone,” Collins said.
The park will be fenced but not staffed, Collins said. Regulations will be posted and skaters can use it at their own risk.
He estimates the cost at $50,000, and said it will be paid for with parks department impact fees. Collins said the skaters who asked the town to build the park have pledged to raise 5 percent to 10 percent of the cost.
Ridenour said he has been collecting donations at his shop and selling T-shirts to raise money for the cause. Skaters have been working on ideas of what they would like to see in the park.
The park should open within a few months, Collins said.
“I feel like it’s a chance to show our young people that we’re looking after them,” he said.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or at www.facebook.com/b.rindge.