In the early 2000′s, when the public skatepark boom started to hit the country many cities went with the option of building modular skateparks to tests the waters. At the time, public skateparks were few and far between and cities were unsure whether a public skatepark would work for their community. As a result, they opted for a modular solution to see how the kids would take to it and to see if skateboarding was a fad.
Well ten years later skateboarding is going strong and public skateparks are being built all over the country. Organizations like Nike, the Maloof Money Cup and the Street League are putting big money into skateboarding, and at the same time providing large amounts of money towards free public skateparks. On the same note, cities are not only building one or two public skateparks, but now developing master plans for entire skatepark systems.
Over the years more cities have realized that public skateparks are an important investment in our youth. As public skateparks evolve it’s very important for skaters and community leaders to see how they are built. Basically, asking the question, “What has worked and what has not worked?”
In the 1970′s, skateparks were built out of concrete, wood, steel and fiberglass. Obviously, you do not see too many public skateparks left over from the 70′s built of wood, steel or fiberglass. However, you do still see concrete parks that were built in the 70′s and still being used to this day. Throughout the eighties and nineties public skateparks were few and far between, but you still saw them being built of concrete.
At the end of the nineties, many states began passing laws to limit a city’s liability regarding public skateparks, and you started seeing pubic parks being built across the country. At this time, you saw the playground companies and other modular companies jump on the skatepark bandwagon. These companies produced skatepark equipment made out of steel, fiberglass, composite plastic and wood. This was the beginning of the mass production of clone like skateparks across the country.
Since then a lot of things have changed. The use of building materials such as steel, wood and plastic have shown significant signs of failure. Plus the skatepark industry is now dominated by companies that pour concrete skateparks. The few modular vendors that are still in business also offer a concrete option.
As modular skateparks deteriorate across the country we are finding that more cities are replacing them with concrete parks. In this article, we document those situations to try to encourage communities to build it right the first time, and not to waste taxpayer dollars on modular equipment.
New Braunfels, TX
In 2004, the City of New Braunfels installed a steel modular skatepark. Over the years the modular skatepark showed signs of wear and tear, and had to be repaired a number of times.
In 2006, local skateboarders were fed up with the poor condition of the modular park and began holding fundraisers for a new park. Three years later they raised enough money to build a 17,000 square foot concrete skatepark to replace the old modular park. The newly improved skatepark attracts users from around the state.
Marble Falls, TX
In 2003, The Highland Lakes Skatepark Association began raising money to build a public skatepark in Marble Falls. In 2006, a temporary park was built with wood ramps including a quarterpipe, fun box and a bank ramp.
After years of hard work The Highland Lakes Skatepark Association raised around a $100,000 to build a brand new concrete skatepark. They were also able to get plenty of in-kind donations to help cut costs. The contractor poured new concrete over the old existing slab creating a 12,000 square foot skatepark. The park has unique features such as the Parthenon Loop.
Los Angeles, CA (Hollenbeck Park)
In 2002, the city installed a prefabricated skatepark in Hollenbeck Park. The skatepark was supervised, charged a fee and was surrounded by a fence. The skatepark featured your standard modular set up with bank ramps, fun boxes and quarterpipes.
When the ramps started to show signs of deterioration LA Parks and Rec. started kicking around ideas for a replacement until they where approached by skater/TV star Rob Dyrdek. The Rob Dyrdek Foundation was able to match funds provided by the city, and together they were able to build a 14,000 square foot skateplaza. In 2009, the plaza opened and was immediately a big hit. Plus the city removed the fence and skatepark fees to encourage usage. Today the Hollenbeck Skateplaza is featured in numerous skate videos and attracts skaters from around the world.
Los Angeles, CA (Lincoln Park)
In 2002, the City of Los Angeles installed a modular park at Lincoln Park. The park featured a mini ramp, quarterpipes, bank ramps and a fun box. The skatepark was also fenced and required a fee.
In 2011, the deteriorating ramps were replaced with the help of pro skater Paul Rodriguez Jr. The Paul Rodriguez Foundation, Nike SB and LA48 stepped in to help provide funding for the 9,000 square foot concrete skatepark. Legendary professional skater Lance Mountain stepped in to help design the facility which features some street plaza elements and a flowing snake run. Plus the fence was removed and the city stopped charging a fee. Lincoln Park is actually the sixth skateplaza to be built in the city for the last two years. LA PARD currently has plans to build three more just like it.
Tacoma, WA (Stewart Heights Park)
In 2004, a prefabricated skatepark was installed at Stewart Heights Park, (also known as “South 56th”), in Tacoma, WA. The park was installed by a local contractor and the problems were immediately apparent. Some of the abutting pyramid forms did not join correctly and some of the quarterpipes were positioned just behind large expansion joints in the slab. More serious problems emerged within the next two or three years as the top sheets, (Skatelite), began to trap moisture and warp. The moist wood then couldn’t hold the screws which began to back out. Although replacement sheets were installed, they too soon became distressed through ordinary wear and tear.
The Woodlands, TX (Forestgate Park)
In 2002, The Woodlands, TX installed a steel prefab park at Forestgate Park. The equipment was poorly designed and began to rust within a few years.
In 2011, the steel ramps were removed and a brand new concrete park was built upon the existing slab. The new park was designed with input from the local skating community, and local skaters participated in the construction.
The Woodlands, TX (Lakeside Park)
In 2002, The Woodlands, TX installed a steel prefab park at Lakeside Park. The park featured a half pipe, a fly box, quarterpipes and banks. The park began to show signs of wear and tear a few years later, and the community began to take steps to replace the park.
In 2011, the community removed the old equipment and hired a design/build skatepark contractor. The contractor met with the local skaters to get an idea of what features to replace the equipment with.
The contractor was able to use the existing slab and build on top of it. All of the new features were built out of poured in place concrete. The new park totals 9,565 sq ft. and features a half pipe, a volcano, two different fun boxes and a taco shaped quarterpipe.
Conroe, TX (Kasmiersky Park)
In 2001, the City of Conroe installed a large skatepark. The equipment was wood framed and layered with a polymer surface. The park was used for many years, but in 201o the city started taking steps to remove the park.
The problem with an outdoor wood framed park is that eventually it will start to rot. The rotting compounded with heavy usage creates a dangerous situation for users.
The city held numerous meetings on building a new skatepark to replace the old one. The skaters and BMXers worked together on a design that would feature both street and bowl elements.
In 2011, the city began construction on a very ambitious skatepark design. The 15,000 sq ft. facility would include two bowls and a large street area. On top of that, the park would be done in dyed concrete and include art features.
On Dec. 17th 2011, the city opened the new skatepark. They moved the location in the park away from where the old park was located to provide more shade. Since the opening the park has been a huge success.
San Antonio, TX (Southside Lions Park)
In 2006, The City of San Antonio attempted to build a small modular skatepark at Southside Lions Park. Unfortunately, the equipment did not fit the slab, and the large fun box was pretty much useless.
As a result, the city worked with a group of local skaters to design a more functional skate area. The modular ramps were removed and a concrete ledge, manual pad and a rail were installed.
The new park has more street friendly features, and a more functional design. Usually a modular park is removed because of deteriorating equipment. However, in this situation the modular equipment was removed because of poor design.
Austin, TX (House Park)
In the 1990′s local skaters volunteered to build a skatepark at the Austin Recreation Center aka House Park. The skaters built their own wood ramps, and for years they upgraded and maintained the park. The fact that the park was centrally located and easily accessible made it an excellent location for a skatepark.
About six or seven years ago the city began looking into upgrading the homemade park with something more permanent. Obviously the wood ramps were not going to last and the small footprint was not enough space for the popular park. The city began thinking of something on a grand scale.
In 2010, the ramps were removed and construction began on a park that was about four times the size of the original park. Not only was this going to be a larger park, but a state of the art concrete skate plaza.
In 2011, after almost eight months of construction the City of Austin cut the ribbon on a brand new 30,000 sq ft. skate park. The park is now hailed as one of the largest skateparks in Central Texas, and attracts skaters from around the state.
New York, NY (Coleman Oval Park)
A few years ago New York City installed a modular park under the bridge at Coleman Oval Park. According to local advocate Steve Rodriguez this park had been skated for years before the skatepark was ever built. Eventually the city installed the modular equipment on a basketball court.
Apparently this has a great location for skateboarding because it’s easily accessible from any borough. However, the “cookie cutter” modular ramps were not cutting it, and something needed to change.
In 2011, a Nike and Architecture for Humanity Game Changer grant helped fund a new skatepark in place of the old modular park. The old modular ramps were discarded and a new state of the art concrete skate plaza took it’s place.
On June 21st 2012, which also happens to be Go Skateboarding Day, local skaters took their first crack at the park and almost 2,000 skaters showed up.
The Woodlands, TX (Harper’s Landing Park)
Around 2004 The Woodlands constructed a small modular skatepark in Harper’s Landing Park. The small modular park included your basic set up including a bank ramp, rail, benches, etc.
Over the years the park began to deteriorate and equipment began to be removed. As of 2012, all that was left was a rail, a couple perimeter benches and a fire hydrant.
In 2012, The Woodlands sent out a RFP for a skatepark replacement and construction began on a brand new bowl. The existing slab had to be removed because it was in such bad condition.
The newly completed bowl is 2016 square feet and equipped with tile and pool coping. This new feature has brought life back into the park, and has attracted skaters from across the state.
In 2003, the City of Owasso constructed a 17,000 sq ft prefab park. The park featured a mini ramp, a pyramid a fun box, quarterpipes and banks.
In 2012, the ramps began to deteriorate and the city started looking for other options. Luckily, they hired a skatepark design/build contractor, and were able to improve and expand the existing skatepark with poured in place concrete features.
When construction started the park was expanded from 17,000 sq ft to 26,326 sq ft. Not only was a bowl added, but all the equipment on the slab was replaced with more unique and challenging features.
Medford, NJ (Freedom Park)
In 2000, Medford constructed a prefab park mostly built of wood framed components. Unfortunately, the surface had drainage problems causing water to sit under the ramps and eventually the ramps began to rot.
In 2010, the city had to dismantle the wood park, and the park remained closed for almost two years. In 2012, a design/build firm was hired and built a new concrete bowl and street area.
Lawrence, KS (Centennial Park)
In 1998, the City of Lawrence built 12,306 sq ft skatepark in Centennial Park. The park featured both wood and precast concrete features.
In 2012, the city hired a skatepark design/build firm to improve the existing park. A major re-model began to take place include an above ground half bowl and resurfacing a good portion of the slab.
When the park was completed skaters immediately took to it. Not only was there a new surface, but also a new half bowl, new hip, quarterpipes, rails and ledges.