Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Finding the right location for a skate park

Where should the skatepark be built?

Finding the right spot for the new skatepark is often a complicated and troublesome exercise. The community's priorities often clash in passionate opposition. Communities all over the nation are starting to see that the healthiest skateparks all have four simple things in common.

Skateparks often bear the brunt of vocal community resistance when it comes to finding the best site. Neighbors fear that the facility will become a haven for foul-mouthed teenagers, graffiti, and a general unease or tension between the skaters and the "quieter" park users. In some cases this might actually be true; when the skatepark is placed so far away from other healthy activities it becomes the perfect incubator for these undesirable activities.

The most engaging, socially sustainable skateparks reside where the whole community can enjoy them. Like any public gathering space, skatepark users have the same kinds of needs that other "ordinary" park users might.


Skateparks should be accessible to the broader community. A remote skatepark will only attract those people who have the means to reach it. The skatepark should be placed in an area that is easy to find and get to.


Skateboarders are generally passionate and committed individuals. Like most people, skaters would rather recreate with others than alone. Non-skaters who happen to be nearby can add to the overall sense of community inclusion at the skatepark; the facility should be designed for lots of community mixing.


The surrounding skatepark area should be active with other users. This diversity keeps the environment interesting and vibrant; without it, the space will feel "overrun" and homogenous...a place for "skaters only."


Often overlooked, comfort is a way of expressing that the users are an important and valued part of the community. A comfortable environment allows people to set proper expectations about the area, use the area in a way that is natural and intended, and ultimately take pride in this "third place." For many skaters, the skatepark will become the central gathering point for years. An uncomfortable space will feel unsafe and attract the wrong element.

posted on
Wednesday, 12 May 2004

1 comment:

A Field Guide to Urban Memphis said...

It's so interesting (read: unfortunate) that people have such negative stereotypes associated with skateboarding. It's a phenomenal sport and has such a rich urban cultural history. A skate park - like Overton Park or Tom Lee Parks - should be the center of activity and draw diverse crowds, not just skaters. I certainly don't skateboard (although I can tear up a roller rink on skates!) but I am an avid spectator.

Skating is a great community, and I really hope that Memphis can find a great location to embrace this park.

Right now there's a grant underway with the Shelby County Commissioners to create a mechanism to evaluate resolutions based on their effects on children - Child Impact Statements. This would be a great experiment to see where a skate park would have a big impact - where is an area that needs this kind of investment, and what positive effects could it have on the area where it would be located?

There's a great online resource called that shows basic demographic information about zip codes which might be a great tool in deciding where to locate the park.