Skatepark with ramps, ledges and grind rails in Kent’s future

Ted Hamilton

City budgets $50,000 for park, construction to begin in late spring

Skateboarders in Kent have been waiting for a place to ride without getting in trouble for more than a decade, but plans to give them a space may be coming to fruition.

The Kent Parks and Recreation Department is hoping to begin construction of a concrete skatepark, complete with ramps, ledges and grind rails, on Stonewater Drive off state Route 59 later this year.

“The idea of the skatepark is a special-use facility, given the number of students at Kent State and the youth in the area have been wanting for a number of years,” said John Idone, director of parks and recreation.

The Parks and Recreation Department wants to complete the project in two phases. The first phase will begin in late spring or early summer and will consist of building a roughly 100-foot long part of the park. The city currently has $50,000 budgeted for the park and hopes to obtain several grants to finish the project.

The wait was mostly caused by finding the proper site for a park. Idone said a lot of parks in the area do not have the space for a skatepark. Other communities faced with the space problem have converted old tennis and basketball courts by sticking smaller ramps on them. Kent did not want to take that route because it is not what skaters are used to skating on, Idone said.

Evolution Skate Shop has been suggesting what kinds of features area skaters would like in the park. Mike Torchia, owner of Evolution, thinks the park will benefit the community.

“First and foremost, it will benefit the kids who want somewhere to skate,” he said. “It will be a place they can’t get hassled by business owners or police.”

Idone said the park will give skaters somewhere to go and legally practice their art.

Some skaters do not believe their sport is viewed very friendly by the city or the university, and they think the skate park is a great idea.

“There is not much in Kent,” said Blake Ferguson, an employee at Evolution. “I know Kent State police are pretty on top of you if you try to ride on campus.”

He said there are not many places to ride unless you drive to Akron.

Ferguson said the project should help area businesses as well as area skateboarders. Well-built and maintained skateparks can attract people from out of state to come ride. This would be a benefit to area businesses because skaters will need to eat and might stop at stores while they visit.

Besides the obvious benefits to the youth in the area, even people who do not skate can enjoy the park.

“It gives people a place to go, even if they’re not skating,” Ferguson said. “A skatepark would be a good place to hang out and meet new people.”

Contact public affairs reporter Ted Hamilton at [email protected].