Skatepark maintenance is a subject that to this point often has more questions than answers. The main reason for this is the age of most of the modern public skateparks. These facilities as we know them now only started to take shape in the late 90’s, so they are still in their relative infancy. There are many variables, the most significant being the material that comprises the riding surface of the park.
We have asked some communities in Oregon to share with us their experiences regarding maintenance costs.
Lincoln City is a community of 8,000 on the Oregon coast. The first phase of their skatepark was built in 1999, and phase 5 was finished up in 2010. The earlier phases were more of a traditional build – meaning that the city hired a skatepark firm. The later phases have become more of a volunteer DIY style project, largely facilitated by several professional skatepark builders living in the area.
Currently the Lincoln City skatepark sits in the neighborhood of 50,000 square feet of concrete. Ron Ploger, Park & Recreation Director, reports that the maintenance costs are minimal:
“Sorry we don’t track the time, basically the crew does a quick walk around to pick
up litter and pull the trash bags about 15 – 20 minutes a day .”
For a facility of this size, as well as how well used it is, this seems to be more than reasonable.
West Linn is a community located in the southeast portion of the Portland metro area. The skaters there are fortunate enough to have two skate opportunities to ride, with both comprised of concrete: 14,000 square foot Tanner Creek park (2003), as well as 1,900 sq ft Robinwood skatespot (2007).
“Unfortunately, or fortunately, the costs are so minimal we don’t bother tracking them separately. We just count it as part of our hard surface maintenance in each of the respective parks.” – Ken Worcester (Parks and Recreation Director)
Tigard, Oregon, immediately southwest of Portland, built a 15,000 square foot concrete skatepark in 2007. This facility is unique, as it sits literally in the parking lot of city hall – giving the Parks department a front row seat to observe from. Martin McKnight shared with us some numbers regarding the ongoing maintenance for the skatepark, which go into great detail:
“Estimated total maintenance cost per year $5,744.
Total labor, small equipment and vehicle costs I estimate to be $3,744 per year.
Seam repair, caulking, concrete cure, concrete patches, etc. – I estimate to be $2,000
per year. We have contracted with Dreamland, the original contractor to do professional
Climate data shows that our area has an average of 208 days per year with no rain
or a trace of rain. So I estimate that we have 208 skate-able days per year with
a labor split evenly between full time labor and part time or seasonal labor.
Full time Utility Worker, vehicle and small equipment = $42 per hour x .5 hours per
day x 104 days per year = $2184 per year
Seasonal Utility Worker, vehicle and small equipment = $30 per hour x. 5 hours per
day X 104 days per year = $1560 per year”
It should be noted that as part of the maintenance performed by Dreamland, several small elements have been added to the original skatepark, in addition to patching minor imperfections that arose after heavy use.
We made several attempts to get data from communities which went the modular route, with little success. One parks department which we spoke with, but didn’t feel comfortable going on record, reported that they spend enough on the upkeep of their modular equipment that they are in constant fear of loosing their funding. This is compounded with the budget process being finalized in June – in which skating season is in full swing. They mentioned specifically to me that a concrete facilitity would have a better return on investment, and would allow them to focus more on the programming for the skatepark that they provide.
Perhaps the most interesting skatepark we looked at for this study was in Beaverton, Oregon. This facility is part of the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District. This park started out in 1999 as all modular ramps, including a 12′ halfpipe. As the elements took their toll on this equipment, the halfpipe yielded to some concrete streetscape around 2007. An additional “novice” area was added in 2008, design/built by a skater staffed concrete firm, which has shown to be popular across all skill levels & age groups.
Allan Wells, who oversees the maintenance on this facility:
“Our annual budget for the skate park is $2800.00. It is safe to say that the majority of this budget goes to the older park…Skatelite, screws, hardware, lumber for framing, paint, kick plates, etc….
The newer park (concrete) requires much less maintenance. Annual pressure washing and occasional concrete patch. There is a cost associated with the Musco lights…but it is tied into the north fields so I am not exactly sure what the precise cost to light the park is on an annual basis…”
In conclusion, these respective communities all had varying maintenance costs associated with their skateparks, but I think that we can see patterns regarding the difference in materials effecting the outcomes. The fact that we had such a hard time getting feedback from non-concrete parks is telling as well, and should be considered when attempting to predict maintenance costs for any new skatepark.