Skatepark Plans Moving Forward

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

Skatepark plans moving forward

Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2016 6:00 am | Updated: 7:57 am, Thu Jul 7, 2016.

New Castle’s proposed skatepark could have elements that skaters and bikers won’t find anywhere else in the Midwest.

The New Castle Parks Board accepted proposed plans for an extreme sports park Tuesday and voted to have design company Hunger Skateparks draw up blueprints.

“We’re just excited about moving forward,” said New Castle Mayor Greg York. “Every time we wait, we’re a month behind.”

The new skate venue will replace the sand volleyball court near Baker Park. York said city workers have already removed the volleyball poles and are prepared to start removing concrete and sidewalks around the 11,000 square foot area.

New Castle Parks Board President Patty Broyles said she wants to create a welcoming park for skateboarders and BMX riders from around the state. Broyles also sees the dedicated arena as a regional tourist attraction that will help drive the local economy.

Hunger Skateparks design team members Christy Wiesenhahn and Tim Devlin attended Tuesday’s parks board meeting to explain the final draft of their proposal.

“This is a big moment in skateboarding in Indiana,” Wiesenhahn said.

The New Castle skatepark will be built entirely above ground and will have an open-style bowl to help with drainage. The concept will also allows skaters and bikers to move fluidly from one skate element to the next, Wiesenhahn explained. As an added bonus, spectators will have much better view of the athletes with this design than they would with a traditional closed bowl.

Wiesenhahn also incorporated art work that is meaningful to the skating community and still ties in New Castle culture and heritage. Signs reading “SK8, RIDE, ROLL” will be produced in the Robert Indiana style, connecting the Baker Park skate zone to downtown New Castle.

Hunger designers also added a skateable basketball sculpture at one of the entrances to recognize the role that sport has played in Henry County’s history. The ramp will have a rail installed over it and will be unique to New Castle. Devlin explained that this feature will provide different opportunities for skaters of all experience levels.

“It has a lot of flow,” Wiesenhahn said.

The design incorporates urban elements like rails and stairs while also presenting many features that allow for transitions and edges for a variety of stunts. Wiesenhahn told the parks board that many of the elements can be skated in multiple ways. The local skatepark will also have an area specifically for beginners to practice their skills.

“This is big for Indiana as a whole, and skateboarding and biking in general,” Devlin said.

Trent Branham attended Tuesday’s meeting to get a look at the proposed design. Branham has been skateboarding for most of his life and was part of an effort nearly 20 years ago to get a dedicated skatepark built in New Castle.

“It looks great... You maximized your space,” Branham said. “I think it looks beautiful.”

Devlin explained that the designers at Hunger Skateparks are also skateboarders themselves. This allows them to understand how certain elements should be angled or what construction mistakes could ruin a project. Devlin said he often takes his family to the Richmond skatepark. Once New Castle’s project is complete, he hopes to be able to stop in Henry County instead.

“I can’t wait to skate it,” Devlin said.

City officials hope to have local volunteers and businesses be a part of the construction process. Wiesenhahn said Hunger Skateparks strives for “community builds” like this because it makes the park more special for the people using it.

“I think it’s a great fit,” said parks board vice president Dave Nantz. “I just think it (a community build) shows that there’s community support behind all this.”

New Castle Career Center welding instructor Steven Vitatoe told the parks board that he plans to build time into this year’s curriculum to allow his students to work on rebar in the skatepark. The welders could also help with railing and other design elements in the park if time allows, Vitatoe said.

Broyles listed dozens of organizations that have written letters of support or put on fundraisers for the skatepark, like the Henry County Community Foundation and Anytime Fitness. Troy Clouse, of Clouse Concrete Construction, also wants to donate labor to the project, she said.

The next New Castle Parks Board meeting is 5 p.m. Aug. 1 in council chambers on the second floor of the municipal building, 227 N. Main St.