Skate on over, share your ideas for skateboard park

Tyler Keller practices his moves Thursday at Ackerman Skate Park. Designers of the city’s new, larger skate park are seeking input before construction begins next year.

Designers of what’s being billed as the largest skate park in the state are asking Charleston’s board-riding community for input before construction begins next year.

“We’re trying to make a really big splash in the world of skate parks,” Patty Newshutz, senior project manager with the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, said in advance of Wednesday’s public forum.

The park has been long in the making and will be built downtown at Meeting and Huger streets beneath the overpasses connecting Interstate 26 and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

When completed, officials hope the site will provide as much as 40,000 square feet of skating surface. The budget: $2 million. Part of the skating area will be under the highway overpasses, providing a degree of year-round shade.

To get input from potential users, designers want feedback from boarders in a public forum set for Wednesday, beginning at 6 p.m. at Edisto Hall in James Island County Park.

Representatives of the construction team will be on hand, including from Team Pain Enterprises, a skate park design specialist group with more than 30 years of experience creating custom skate parks worldwide.

Newshutz said one important factor is the park should include features that are both safe and suitable for all experience levels.

“We want the first-time beginner to feel just as comfortable as the advanced,” she said, including parents who want to skate with their children.

The size of the park also is key to making the site a regional draw. “Regional” skate parks are categorized as 25,000 square feet or more, which would add to the chance of hosting large groups, tournaments and competitions.

Team Pain spokesman and designer Tito Porrata said the site already has several features to build around, including a tidal creek and the limitations of highway agencies. But there are plans to have a skating “bowl,” a street course of obstacles and hurdles of all types.

The course is destined to be unique, he said, adding that skate parks “are a lot like golf courses” in that each one is different.

Parks officials say the site has the advantage of being accessible to students from the several colleges in downtown Charleston and is also on a bus line. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2013, with an opening in early spring 2014.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.