Charleston City Council unanimously approved funding for a skate park in downtown Charleston, with the hope it will serve the city’s youth and attract tourists.
The skate park will be between Virginia Street and Kanawha Boulevard, underneath Interstate 64 near Magic Island. The city is using $150,000 from the annual Community Development Block Grant to fund the project. Admission to the park will be free.
Construction on the park is set to be completed by Spring 2021, and will then open to the public, according to the city. The proposed design includes two bank ramps, 15 quarter pipes, four half pipes, grind ledges, slant pads, spines, jump boxes, roll-ins and more.
The idea for the skate park originated from a teen town hall last year on the West Side. Alvy Robinson, now a junior at Capital High School, pitched the skate park to city leaders. Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said Monday she remembers Robinson and a dozen of her friends pressing her following the meeting, telling her how great this could be for the city.
Robinson spoke during public comment period on Dec. 21, saying Charleston’s skaters are often out and about, but don’t have a single gathering place that welcomes them.
“Adults often stress the importance of outside play,” Robinson said. “This skate park would give us a place that we feel comfortable to do that while having fun with our friends.”
Council member Tiffany Wesley-Plear, a West Side resident, said she was extremely excited to see young people making themselves heard, then continuing to press the issue until it came to fruition.
“To see this young lady come to council tonight to express her thoughts about having that skate park is amazing,” she said. “I see our future leaders making their voice heard.”
Council member Caitlin Cook, chairperson of the city parks and recreation committee, has said previously she grew up skating in Charleston.
Cook said Monday the park will be a worthwhile investment in the city, while also being accessible to youth.
“ … I would ask that you invest in our youth … you invest in kids that want to go outside, that want to be active, that have a passion. Give them a space to exercise that passion — a safe space within our city to enjoy themselves,” Cook said. “I think when we talk about retaining young people, this is something that will have a long-term positive impact on kids.”
Council member Will Laird said growing up nearby in Fayetteville, Charleston was a skater’s destination, even without a skate park. He said he could not support the idea enough.
“As someone who grew up an hour outside of the city … Charleston was a destination for us back in the late 80s and early 90s. We’d just come to the city to skate even without a skate park, and I think this is going to draw people from far and wide,” Laird said.
The city chose American Ramp Company, an international skate park building company, to complete the project.
The skate park will be removable, which was required by the state Division of Highways because it’s directly under the interstate.
In August, Goodwin said the city had reached out to The Tony Hawk Foundation for advice on how to accommodate both younger and older children, experienced and inexperienced skaters, and different types of skaters, when building the park.
The site will have parking and will be handicap accessible, Goodwin said.