Considerations for Building a Public Park
Here are some
things to think about when constructing and operating a skatepark.
Some points and suggestions are specifically for public skateparks,
though they may also prove useful for privately owned skateparks.
your park near the following:
lines - You may want to install lights for night-skating or
have power to run vending machines or even a concession stand.
Don't forget that your skaters and bikers will get dehydrated,
so you may want to install drinking fountains. If you have the
budget, a rest-room is also a good idea.
Installing a pay phone is must. Kids may want to call their parents
for rides, but most importantly, it can be used for emergencies.
are necessary if you don't want trash strewn all over the skating
course. However, as most trash cans are portable, skaters WILL
move the cans and try to skate them. Keep this in mind - "Anything
that can be moved by a skater, will be moved." This goes for
trash cans, benches, posts and anything temporary found in or
near the skating area. This is congruous with the street-skating
mentality, so instead of fighting it, try to adapt and work around
it. Since you probably won't want to continually replace the trash
cans, consider sturdier cans that can be bolted or cemented to
is obviously an important element in keeping the park open after
dark. You may want to consider installing lights in your park
to extend your hours of use. Since parents frequently don't get
off work until 5:00, kids that are dropped off often don't have
the opportunity to skate at a skatepark until after 5:30PM. You
also want to install proper lights, which can be expensive. If
the lamps are not bright enough, they will cast shadows and make
the course difficult to navigate. Skatepark architects recommend
30 foot lights, which in total, can cost as much as $60,000. Without
lighting, skaters have been found at night utilizing everything
from flashlights, Coleman lamps, to maneuvering their cars so
their headlights shine on the skatepark - and this can be dangerous.
Area: You may have already noticed that people enjoy watching
skaters and bikers in a skatepark, so you may want to set aside
a viewing area. The viewing area must be detached from the park,
and have either a fence or a large space between the skating and
viewing section. You can either have a grassy area for people
to sit on, or benches. But be warned, unless the benches are properly
secured to the ground, skaters will find a way to move and skate
them. Special note: If you want to install bleachers, there are
new laws and regulations concerning the height and type of bleacher
that can be used. So check with your skatepark architect and bleacher
companies to find out what type of bleacher will meet present
Appropriate fencing is a good idea, though not for the reasons
you may be thinking. Fences rarely keep out skaters, and chances
are they will merely jump the fence to ride in your park. On the
other hand, fences keep the skateboards and bikes from flying
out of the skating area and hitting bystanders. They also keep
small children and animals from entering the skating area.
Points: Don't build your park too close to irrigation, as
water can leak or spill into the park and make the skating surface
slippery. Your skatepark designer should know the proper distance
from irrigation to build a cement park
make sure you use proper cement. Certain types of cement provide
a more conducive skate surface. Using the wrong type of cement,
in the worst case scenario, may require a complete demolition
of the park and force you to build it again. You should use only
qualified skatepark designers and builders who have experience
with cement parks. There is also a way to color the cement, which
can liven up the skate area.
It is VERY important that the cement is cured properly. If the
appropriate amount of time for curing is not established, then
stress cracks can appear and ruin the park. Since your local skaters
will be dying to try out the new park, you should consider hiring
guards or staff to watch the park at all hours to insure that
no one skates the park prematurely.
Metal: There are specific materials that should be used for
building a wood or metal park that make it safe and enjoyable
to ride. Your skatepark architect should know what materials work
the best. For instance, certain wood lasts longer under pressure,
and certain joints hold ramps together better. The way the park
is constructed is important, as joints and bolts put in the wrong
place can make the ramp weak and create gaps that will hinder
the skateboard wheels.
When an architect
designs a park, he takes on the liability for design flaws. Because
of this, it is recommended that you give the architect some freedom
in the design of the park. If you want to make changes to the
park later on, even if it is very a small alteration (perhaps
it is just a new bracket or bolt), check with the architect and
have him sign off on it. Otherwise, you can be held responsible
and liable for any injuries incurred near this modification.
Once the park
is opened: If you do not want graffiti in your park, consider
a "Zero Tolerance" policy towards graffiti. If you discover graffiti,
you should remove it as quickly as possible (within 24 hours).
The last thing a tagger wants, is to have his graffiti removed
before anyone has a chance to see it. Some skatepark operators
suggest closing the park down until the graffiti is removed. This
option is up to you, but you should do whatever it takes to remove
the graffiti promptly.
Bad ways to
remove graffiti: Sandblasting may remove the graffiti, but it
also removes some of the cement. This can make the surface rough
can also remove some of the cement, though it is not as destructive.
If other methods of removal fail, this can be used as a last resort.
to remove graffiti: There are some great Spray-On brands that
remove graffiti without damaging the surface. One brand is Graffiti-X.
I have heard of some others - check with your local hardware store
for more brands of spray removal.
Don't use any non-stick anti-graffiti treatment that you paint
on the surface. This will create a smooth or sticky surface for
skaters and will require a complete removal of the paint. Big
both the skaters and the community will be looking at how you
maintain your skatepark. If your park is clean and well operated,
the skaters will have more respect for you and the community will
appreciate what you are doing. If you take a while to remove graffiti,
clean trash, and fix broken ramps, skaters will generally have
less respect for your park and therefore be more prone to trashing
the park and ignoring safety rules.
You will have to decide whether to have your park staffed or un-staffed.
Though a staffed park is recommended for safety reasons, it may
incur more liability for the park. The worst liability is having
a park that is staffed only part of the time. In a law suit, it
will be questioned why staff wasn't present during a certain injury
or problem, to which an appropriate answer will be difficult.
It is understandable, however, that full time staffing for a skatepark
can be expensive, but skaters will learn when the part-time staff
is not present, and when they can be lax on the safety rules.
If you are a public park, and this may even apply to private parks,
you may want the police department to help support you. It is
recommended that you develop a relationship with the police department
in the early stages of the design phase. If you begin talking
with them in the late construction phase, they may be overwhelmed
and offer little help. The police can patrol the park during both
the hours of operation and off-hours. They can also develop a
personal relationship with the skaters.
As a skatepark
operator, it is highly recommended that you and your staff develop
a relationship with your skaters and bikers. The more they see
and understand what you are doing, the more they will respect
your safety guidelines. As you probably have discovered, most
skaters and bikers are great kids, and want adults to view them
with some respect. And when they get this respect, you will be
surprised at how much respect they give back.
It is also
a good idea to give the park some energy by hosting special events,
such as demos, classes, and DJ's. These events can be cheap and
fun, and keep the park looking active. It also shows the skaters
that you want to be involved.
Just as many sports programs with the parks and recreations have
loaner safety gear, see if you can budget in loaner knee, wrist,
and elbow pads, as well as safety helmets. Extra skateboards are
also a good idea, as kids break their own boards and can't afford
Clearly post the rules for using the park and enforce the safety
standards regularly. You may want to cite people who are riding
or skating without proper safety gear or endangering others. If
you are a city, you may be required by the city ordinance to cite
offenders. You may also want to post a sign that says, "No Skating
in Wet Weather."
This is one most important, yet frequently overlooked, features
of running a successful skatepark. One city recommended budgeting
$8000 a year in maintenance costs, though they frequently spent
less on repairs. If something needs repairs, the quicker you can
fix it, the better and safer your park will be.
It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you have a regular maintenance schedule.
This can be a weekly or daily schedule, and it just requires you
to check and report any problems you may see in the park. Also,
document when you make the repairs or add new equipment. If someone
were to take you to court, you would need to show proof of a maintenance
schedule, so this becomes a very important liability issue.
You can hire
some local skaters or use your present staff to clean the trash
and tidy up the park. A well-maintained park reflects very well
on its operators. The community will respect what we are trying
to accomplish - that is a safe, fun environment for kids and young
I hope you
can find some useful information within these points. While this
information is directed towards public parks, it can certainly
be useful for private skateparks. If you need any more information,
please feel free to contact us at (310) 453-7855.