Designers visit Skatepark Site

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Designers visit skatepark site

Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2016 6:00 am | Updated: 11:27 am, Mon Mar 28, 2016.

The chilly March air did not stop dozens of skatepark supporters from meeting Friday afternoon to share ideas and information about New Castle’s next sports arena.

“As far as this spot goes, it’s a wonderful spot,” said Hunger Skateparks manager Christy Wiesenhahn.

Wiesenhahn and Hunger Skateparks owner Bart Smith joined representatives of the New Castle Parks Board, local skateboarders and freestyle BMX bikers at the Baker Park volleyball pit Friday. Smith thinks the skatepark would integrate well into the surrounding landscape of Baker Park and will compliment the area.

“I think it’s a good spot. It’s got other things for other kids to use,” Smith said. “Families might come and go from the skatepark to the playground. They’ve got a little bit of everything here, so it makes sense to put the skatepark here.”

New Castle Mayor Greg York, City Park Superintendent Dan Denney, and Henry County Commissioner Kim Cronk were among the host of community leadership who attended the meeting.

“We’re just excited to come here and hear what you guys are thinking... we’ll work together and come up with a design,” Smith said.

Hunger Skateparks is based out of Bloomington. The company has been involved with public arenas in Winimac and Peru, IN, and the renovation of the Indy Skatepark, as well as building private backyard skate spots.

“A skatepark can be such a positive movement in the community for change in general,” Wiesenhahn said. “It’s one of those things that when you don’t have one, it’s really noticeable in the parks system.”

New Castle Parks Board president Patty Broyles and her husband Mike incorporated skatepark tours into their recent visit to Kentucky. The board president spoke with extreme athletes in Bowling Green and Louisville, learning more about their sport and what it takes to make an attractive community skatepark.

Broyles said it is time for New Castle to have it’s own skatepark. She was glad to see the number of skateboarders who showed up Friday to offer their ideas to the project.

Smith said it is important to find out what New Castle skaters and bikers want in a park so the design team can use those ideas to develop a spot for everyone to enjoy. The New Castle skatepark should be versatile and offer a happy medium for all types of extreme sports, Smith said.

“It’ll be nice to have a place to do everything,” said skateboarder Justin Burns.

Burns has been riding skateboards since 2010. He recently moved to New Castle and discovered that the city’s extreme sports activity ordinance limits where skateboarders, roller skaters, and freestyle bikers can ride and hone their skills.

“This will be a place where there are no issues at all,” Burns said.

Wiesenhahn mentioned that skateboarding is a sport that is open to pretty much anyone. Wiesenhahn and Smith also think the skatepark can be a work of art that incorporates local landmarks into the design.

“Skateparks can be huge community builders,” Wiesenhahn said. “We try to incorporate what’s going on in the community.”

Park board vice president Dave Nantz said the Peru extreme sport community was involved in developing the northern Indiana skatepark. Broyles and Nantz want local skaters and bikers to take a similar role in planning and developing the New Castle park so that they feel some ownership and pride once it opens.

“We feel like if the skateboarders are involved in the process, then there tends to be a self-monitoring of the park,” Wiesenhahn said. “There’s definitely a culture that develops.”

Broyles credited Mayor York as one of the driving forces behind the city’s recent push for a dedicated place for skateboarders and BMX bikers. Part of York’s vision for the skatepark is that it will serve the community as an educational venue, as well. York wants to see older, more advanced athletes mentoring kids who are new to the sport.

Burns and fellow skateboarders Eli Groce, Brandon Clark, and Chance Smith all expressed an interest in passing their knowledge to the next generation of boarders.

“It makes me happy to see people riding,” Groce said.

Groce and Clark are organizing a fundraising event in May to raise money and community support for the skatepark.

Broyles estimated that the skatepark could cost about $250,000. The New Castle Parks Board plans to apply for a Henry County Food and Beverage Tax grant to help with construction costs.

Broyles believes the skatepark will serve as a tourist attraction and help with local economic development. She also hopes the community will donate to the project through the Henry County Community Foundation and through in-kind donations of building materials.

Wiesenhahn estimates that a 10,000 square foot skate arena could be installed at Baker Park in about three months once the city secures funds for the project.