PRB Articles


Skatepark in Action

Part 2 in this year-long series explores the installation and post-installation phase of skatepark implementation at the Glen Ellyn, Ill. Park District -- a first-person account.

Editor's note: Parks & Rec Business magazine presents the second part of The Skatepark Decision, a year-long series of articles exploring the growing demand for municipal and regional skateparks. The series will cover The Skatepark Decision, from planning to implementation, and everything in between. We'll profile skateparks from around the country and offer new perspectives and ideas on The Skatepark Decision. If you have something you'd like to see covered in this series, please let us know. If you have a unique skatepark or have found ways to make skateparks work best for your community, drop us a line at editorial@northstarpubs.com. This month, Dave Scarmardo, Superintendent of Parks for the Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Park District wraps up his account of Glen Ellyn's skatepark-building experience.

Last month we discussed the decision-making process behind implementing a new skatepark in the Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Park District. Now it was time for the rubber to meet the road, or wheels to meet the half-pipe…

After the Board of Commissioners awarded the bid to the skatepark manufacturer, the equipment was delivered in about three weeks.

Three semi loads of equipment showed up on-site to be installed in Newton Park. After unloading the materials, the crew from the manufacturer did not waste any time in the installation process. They arrived well-prepared and ready to work.

The crew started early in the morning and some days worked well into darkness to get the project done on time. Staff was amazed how the ramps and jumps were constructed. They used superior construction materials, and it appears that it will last for a long time. All of the framing is constructed with pressure treated lumber, marine grade plywood, glued and screwed every 8 inches. The park took about 10 days to construct with no major problems.

Fitting the Blueprint

The layout fit perfectly into our 80' x 160' area. The installation crew was amazed at the design of our park. The crew stated that they had never installed a design like this one, and it was laid out exceptionally well.

The design utilized a couple of smaller designs configured into the overall design of the facility. The equipment was arranged into several different use zones for beginners, intermediates, and up to the advanced skill level.

The distance between each piece of equipment is very important, as this distance will determine the ability of the skater to achieve the proper speed and height to do the trick on the jump ramp or box, or get enough "vert".

This was accomplished by having a 1' hud box (6' wide), a 1' manual pad (12' long) and a 3' hipped bank (18' wide), plus low boxes and long rails in our street course.

The intermediate skill level utilizes the medium height funbox and 4' quarter bank, 5' train-bank, and 5' hipped quarter bowl. The advanced user is able to test their skills on the 6' roll-in 6' wide ramps and half pipe.

Also incorporated into the design is an area for kids to play a pick up game of in-line hockey, or just to warm up before attempting to test their skills on the course. The area is the entire width of the rink, which is about 80' long and about 25' wide. This area is also used heavily, and was a great use of the space.

Touchup & Maintenance

After the installation of the equipment we decided to have the surface color-coated to better match the skatepark equipment. This decision proved to be a very good one.

We contracted a local seal-coating company, Professional Maintenance, to apply the color coating material. We chose to go with a one-color application, with our logo applied in a couple of areas around the rink.

Alex Demos, the company's CEO, was very helpful in choosing a color and the proper material needed for this application. Professional Maintenance also made a 6' diameter plastic stencil of our park district logo. This logo can be used in other applications as well, like on our football field or soccer fields.

The logo is made of a heavy plastic, will last for a long time and was very cost-effective at around $175.

Two coats of material were applied. This is the same material that is used on the surfaces of tennis or basketball courts, so it should hold up well to the abuse of skating.

The color we choose was burgundy, and it complemented the jumps and ramps, as they are black and gray in color. After the color coating was completed we installed some benches, trash containers, and a payphone that can only be used for outgoing emergency calls.

The installation of the phone was a bit of concern due to vandalism, but we felt that if an emergency occurred it was in the best interest of the resident to have access to the phone to dial 911 and get help to the facility.

In the design phase we felt it necessary to have access to the facility for future work inside the skatepark, or if an ambulance needed to gain egress into the park.

A 10' double gate was installed in the perimeter fencing to gain access to the skatepark just for these above-mentioned reasons.

Also, a 7' rotary turnstile was installed at the entrance. This was installed to help discourage BMX bikes from gaining access to the park, as we do not allow bikes and skate boards to use the park at the same time.

Having both types of equipment in the park at the same time is a safety concern, and at this time we just won't allow them in together. In the future, if there's a need for a separate bike area we will certainly look into a facility for them.

The skatepark was now ready for the grand opening, which was very successful, being well attended by parents and skaters.

We arranged to have some of the kids' favorite bands on hand to play all of their favorites. And of course their favorite drink, Red Bull, was there as well! Red Bull actually sponsored the band and the drinks.

The Board of Commissioners cut the ribbon and the park was opened and has been used heavily ever since.

After the opening, however, we noticed an increase in the refuse inside the skating area. The kids are pretty good at picking up after themselves, but we still need to visit the park every day to clean it up.

Another issue is the graffiti... Staff members inspect the equipment on a daily basis, and look for damaged equipment, stickers or graffiti on the equipment. All graffiti is removed daily, and will be until the kids stop doing it. So far, very few problems have arisen from the skaters.

The materials that are used in construction bode well for graffiti clean-up. The 3/4" polyethylene panels are easy to clean off with any brand of graffiti remover. We have been able to remove paint with a local company's brand called 1st Ayd (aerosol) #10 vandal and mark remover.

This graffiti remover is used on our playgrounds to remove markers and paint with only a soft cloth or scrub brush. There is no exposed wood anywhere, so stickers, paint or markers can be easily removed with little effort.

As far as discouraging stickers, we've had some conversation with the skaters and asked them not to apply the stickers, with mixed results. Some of the skaters are very understanding and have listened, and even stopped others from applying them to the equipment.

However, there have been a couple of kids who choose not to listen, and don't adhere to the rules. So, we've informed the skaters if vandalism gets out of hand we will close down the skatepark for awhile to show we are serious about our rules and regulations.

At this point, we haven't had to close the park down. The word is out that we will adhere to our posted rules and have violators ticketed or even arrested. This may seem very hard-nosed, but our staff feels that if the skaters are aware of the rules from the beginning there will be no major infractions, and it can be enjoyed by all who use it.

The skaters have respected others while using the equipment. The equipment we have is for all levels of skill. The more seasoned skaters have respected the beginners' abilities, and have been very gracious as the facility has been at its capacity during heavy use periods on the weekends.

Usage Trends

Our skatepark is open from 9 a.m. to dusk. So far we have had some kids inside when it was closed. But after explaining the reasons why they have to leave they go without much resistance.

It is most heavily used from the time school is out in the afternoon to all day long on the weekends. The kids have waited so long for a place to skate that whenever they have free time it is used.

Skaters are there early in the morning until dark. Some skaters even have been caught by the police skating after 11 p.m. in total darkness!

Someone from our staff visits the park every day now for inspections and trash removal, and we've developed a rapport with some of the regular skaters. We have found that a lot of them are coming from great distances to use our facility.

We have discovered that talking to the kids and getting to know them will help them to realize that we care about their needs, and are willing to listen to what are they are asking for. This will build ownership on their part to see we do care, and will respond to their requests.

The feedback from the residents has been very positive. The facility will provide a place for the kids to go and exercise and have a sense of pride. After all, it's a result of their hard work and persistence that made this a reality.

It has been very rewarding working with the kids and parents, who all have been very helpful in getting this facility up and running.

Dave Scarmardo is the Superintendent of Parks for the Glen Ellyn Park District.

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