We need a skatepark! Where do we begin?

With apologies to Keith Stephenson and SkateandAnnoy.com for borrowing their excellent image.

Whether you’re a community activist or facing a passionate group of constituents, you recognize that skateboarders in your area need safe places to recreate. What you do with that knowledge could mean the difference between a incredible new facility that the community is proud of or something that falls far short of that.

Going into the skatepark development process with a good grasp of the kinds of decisions you will be making is the most important—and for many the most elusive—part of planning for success. As a community leader or project manager, your role is particularly vital and you will be tasked with educating those around you on the merits of those key decisions.

PSDG1. Pick up the Public Skatepark Development Guide

The good news is that there is a field guide to this process, the Public Skatepark Development Guide. Now in its second edition, the Guide will prepare you for all of the stages in skatepark planning and development. Written by experienced community activists from all over the nation, the Guide is your best source for skatepark development available anywhere. Furthermore, it’s free. All services and production costs have been donated. You pay only shipping.

The Public Skatepark Development Guide Second Edition has just been released with new health and safety statistics and other changes!

Get your copy now!

2. Understand Your Need

Like any other facility, one cannot plan a skatepark without having some idea of the scale of need it’s meant to fill. Use Skaters for Public Skateparks’ Skatepark Adoption Model to measure your area’s skatepark need. By comparing census data from your area with recreational market research, you can easily get a good estimate of the number of skaters in your area. From there it’s a simple matter to determine how much terrain would be required to supply a reasonable amount of space. Finally, you break that recommendation out into manageable sizes and distribute them across the community. This process will become the framework for your comprehensive skatepark plan.

The Skatepark Adoption Model is fully covered in the Public Skatepark Development Guide or online right here !

3. Know Your Materials

There are two popular types of skatepark material approaches available: Concrete and prefabricated. Prefabricated skatepark materials include steel and wood-polymer ramps. Most skatepark obstacles can be built using either material. Concrete will provide more design flexibility as the structures are built on-site to the design specification, (rather than the design specification meeting the prefabricated structures available). Prefab, (steel and wood-polymer ramps), has the advantage of a reduced design cost and schedule as the park is designed using a list of pre-designed elements.

There are two main categories of skatepark material; concrete and prefab. Within those two groups there are several options. In concrete there is poured-in-place (custom) and precast. The distinctions within the prefab category are mostly determined by the top sheet. Within prefab there is steel, paper polymer, wood, and plastic polymer. For now you only need to be knowledgeable about the two major categories.

Concrete skateparks will afford greater design options and be virtually indestructible. However, they may require a full construction process.

Concrete skateparks have been around since the first skateparks were built. This material provides great design flexibility and should only require spot maintenance for many years of service. These advantages are weighed against a longer design development and construction time. Concrete skateparks are sometimes known as “Poured-In-Place” and shouldn’t be confused with “Precast” (below).

Prefab parks are generally disliked by experienced skaters and will incur high maintenance demands as they age. They are best employed for seasonal and temporary skateparks.

Prefab skateparks are characterized by kit structures positioned on a flat surface. Polymer Prefab tends to be expedient for many communities; buying the skate structures from an approved vendor is easier than embarking on a full-fledged public design process. Usually a prefab park won’t require any excavation, (and the permits and studies that may accompany it). Prefab parks typically have higher maintenance expenses, especially as the structures age. Design is limited and, particularly for experienced skaters, often not very compelling. However, prefab skateparks can provide an excellent solution for temporary sites or where concrete construction simply isn’t possible. Prefab is the often the choice made by seasonal camps and event management.

4. Consult an Expert

When you have a question, consult an unbiased expert. While you may be getting great information from a sales representative, they’re in the business of selling something. Instead, look at your local volunteers, community activists, and other communities like yours who are enjoying success with their parks. There are great, affordable skateparks all around you and you have no reason to compromise!

With these four simple considerations we’re sure you will be positioned for huge successes.