In January 2003, I contacted Dan Lenz, Director of Warren County, VA Parks and Recreation to see if there was interest in building a concrete skatepark. Mr. Lenz informed me that his department already met with the Warren County Board of Supervisors about the possibility of building such a facility in Warren County and he asked me to help him form a committee that would be made up of local skaters/bmx riders, parents and the Parks Department. In February 2003, the WCSPC (Warren County Skatepark Committee) held their first meeting.
The WCSPC started a media awareness campaign and fund raising efforts. Donation jars were placed at local businesses. On top of that, the Front Royal/Warren County Rotary Club gave us our first large donation from their Centennial Fund for $25,000 dollars. After that several more large donations came in totaling over $50,000 dollars. In July 2003, I gave a presentation to the Board of Supervisors on why a concrete skatepark was needed in Warren County. Doug Stanley, County Administrator, recommended the Board of Supervisors appropriate $75,000 from the 2002-03 contingency reserves for the skate park. The County also endorsed a dollar for dollar match for up to $75,000. Then The Tony Hawk Foundation kicked in $10,000 dollars. As a result, we raised over $200,000 (including the $75,000 match from the county) in just over a year. We were on our way! Far short of our goal, but making headway… Then the slow down… Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was The Warren County Skatepark.
While we had 100% support from the community, Parks Department and local government, the County was not going to write a check to build the skatepark. They wanted community involvement and local skaters to help with the fund raising. By working towards a goal the local skaters would take pride in their new skatepark. After all, it was with their efforts that made it happen and for a while fund raising dried up. We tapped out the community, so we started applying for grants. In 2007, after choosing the Skyline SoccerPlex as the site of our skatepark, we applied for the Virginia Department of Recreation and Conservation Fund grant and were awarded $76,000 dollars. We were the first VDRCF grant used for a concrete skatepark.
With most of our money in place, it was time to find a vendor to design and build our skatepark. Our committee decided to use the design/build approach, finding one company to do both the design and construction. Requests for Qualifications (RFQ’s) were sent to at least 10 skatepark design/build firms. Our committee reviewed the RFQ’s and selected 5 companies that we contacted for a Request for Proposal (RFP) based on size and type of items we wanted in our skatepark. When the RFP’s were returned we narrowed the field again and were left with 2 vendors. Because we would be using in-kind donations and materials, such as local contractors providing donated equipment, excavation, drainage, concrete at cost, etc), we needed to find a vendor that would be willing to work with us this way in addition to building a unique skatepark that would fit in with the site and history of Warren County. In December 2008, Pillar Design Studios in conjunction with Artisan Skateparks won the contract.
Skatepark construction began in September 2009. Due to a very harsh winter, there were many construction delays, but the park was finally finished and opened on April 17, 2010. The park has many unique features including an Amoeba style pool, a pole jam that resembles Civil War cannon (that ties into the areas Civil War history), a flow bowl with spine and small dish bowl, an 8’ tall free standing quarter pipe.
Since opening the park has been a huge success and has done its job of providing a world class facility for skaters and BMX riders along with promoting area. Several contests have been held and the Front Royal/Warren County area gets skaters from nearby towns, cities, states visiting the park.
Yes it did take 7 years from start to finish, but it was worth it.
Words by John Bracken and photos by Peter Furnee, Gabe Jones and Brad Siedlecki.