On Tuesday, New Castle County Council consented to the construction of an 18,500-square-foot skate park as Glasgow Park in Bear. The vote was contingent upon a final presentation on liability issues from the county’s risk management division before ground is broken. According to Parks Planner Jon Husband, that could be as soon as this fall.
Ben Jones is a skateboarder first, but by necessity moonlights as an advocate for the sport he loves.
For nearly a decade, the 33-year-old Wilmington man and the few hundred other members of the Wilmington Skate Project have lobbied just about every governmental body who would listen, asking that skateboarders be considered when parks are planned.
Now, it appears they are on the eve of their first major breakthrough.
On Tuesday, New Castle County Council consented to the construction of an 18,500-square-foot skate park at Glasgow Park in Bear. The vote was contingent upon a final presentation on liability issues from the county’s risk management division before ground is broken. According to Parks Planner Jon Husband, that could be as soon as this fall.
And for the Wilmington Skate Project, that’s what’s most important. After years of watching soccer field after soccer field get sodded and basketball court after basketball court get paved, skateboarders appear to finally be getting a facility of their own.
“At this point everyone agrees a skate park is a good idea, so it’s just been about getting through the red-tape and things we don’t have any control of,” Jones said. “But we’re optimistic.”
The proposed skate park comes with a $768,000 price tag, of which the state has agreed to pay $350,000. The all-concrete facility will feature a plaza area with various jumps and rails and a “bowl” area that resembles an unfilled swimming pool.
Other Delaware Skateparks
Silver Lake Skate Park, Middletown
Putt-A-Rosa Skate Park, Milford
Newport Skate Park, Newport
Smyrna Skate Park, Smyrna
Townsend Municiapl Park at Townsend Village I, Townsend
Husband said the plans were drawn up by California Skate Parks, which has designed hundreds of the estimated 4,000 public skate facilities across the country.
A 40,000-square-foot park with a similar plaza feature opened July 16 in Bethlehem, Pa.
Having a free, public facility at which to skate helps legitimize the sport, according to Jones. It also will help fellow skateboarders stay out of trouble with the law.
“There’s this misconception out there that skateboarders want to be [trouble],” he said. “We just want to skate because it’s fun and all the other stuff is just part of what we have to deal with when we don’t have [dedicated] places to skate.”
Tyler Jacobson agreed.
“The only place there is to skate a lot of times is on private property and then you end up seeing young kids get arrested and criminalized when really all they’re doing is participating in a recreational activity,” he said.
Jacobson, 28, said he routinely travels hours from his Newark home to skate at other parks. He’s even traveled to China for the sole purpose of skating in Shanghai at one of the largest parks in the world.
“It would be great to have something close to home,” he said.
And while ultimately it appears he will, it appears that despite their vote, some members of council still have reservations about liability issues. For nearly 45 minutes, the council discussed the potential of lawsuits with county attorneys behind closed doors in an executive session.
Policy Director Nicole Majeski and Attorney Gregg Wilson would not reveal specifics of that conversation, but said specific questions like whether the facility would be manned by a county employee or how a helmet requirement could be enforced would still have to be answered.