‘Skate spots’ under development

Published 8:44 pm Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Construction is expected to begin soon on two “skate spots” in Suffolk, and should wrap up by the end of summer.

The “skate spots” — the term for a skate park built at an already-existing park — will provide a healthy and safe recreation facility for hundreds of Suffolk youth, said Parks and Recreation Director Lakita Frazier.

“We think it’s a wonderful safety enhancement,” Frazier said, noting that it will attract skaters who currently are skating in the streets. “We feel this is another amenity that will get those young people out.”

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The two spots, planned for Bennett’s Creek and Lake Meade parks, will feature ramps and pipes when they are initially constructed, along with plenty of room for future expansion. Frazier said the designs were developed with the input of several hundred skaters who completed a survey last year.

“They gave us recommendations on the types of amenities they feel would be good for a skate park,” Frazier said. “The companies that have the expertise in skate parks took the comments we had and provided us with the design they think would be useful for our citizens.”

The skate spots will have a number of benefits, Frazier explained. Primarily, it allows teens who want to be active the opportunity to do so without getting in trouble.

“We have such a sedentary lifestyle now,” Frazier said, noting the children and young adults who skate could easily be indoors playing video games.

Furthermore, the skate spots will keep citizens’ spending dollars in the city and possibly attract some from surrounding communities. Currently, Suffolk residents are going to skate parks in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Isle of Wight to skate, according to last year’s survey.

“We had citizens that were leaving Suffolk to … skateboard,” Frazier said. “Now, the citizens here will have their own skate park. We encourage them to stay here and participate in their own town with their own skate park.”

The bid for construction of the parks should be finalized and awarded soon, Frazier said, and construction should be complete by the end of summer. The total cost of both parks will be about $220,000, which will come from the Parks and Recreation capital improvements budget.

The city received a $10,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation to assist with the skate spot projects. Tony Hawk is a renowned professional skateboarder, and personally reviewed and offered feedback on the projects. Suffolk was one of only 19 communities in the country to receive a grant. The city also is pursuing partnerships that will provide future enhancements to the skate spots without using taxpayer dollars.

“We’re really excited about this new amenity in our parks,” Frazier said.