BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for October 1, 2008
Behind the scenes: Durham Board of Election preps for record voting year

Durham kicks off skate park design review

Looking at the site layout for the new skateboarding park planned for the southeast corner of Durham Central Park, given the grade changes and the ample number of stairs, your first impression might be, "This looks like the Durham Civic Center plaza."

You wouldn't be that far off. And given that that plaza (like the CCB Plaza downtown) is often full of skateboarders getting their thrills on the stairs, think of it as a sign of what skaters are looking for in a public park.

Durhamrender A centerpiece of the design are three stairwells -- ranging from 3-5 steps for beginners to 8-12 stairs for advanced skaters -- to give enthusiasts of the sport a central, city-approved location to skate. And the resemblance to the places that draw skaters everywhere is certainly no accident.

At Tuesday night's meeting, Brad Siedlecki of Pillar Design -- a design firm whose principal is credited on its web site's testimonials as having co-designed the world's first skateplaza -- expressed excitement at the chance to build a skate park in a truly urban setting in Durham, allowing a true "urban plaza" design as opposed to the designs used in other cities' more-suburban locations.

"I've done well over 150 parks in my eight-year stint of doing this, and this is one of the true downtown parks," Siedlecki said. "There aren't many cities who have done this."

The urban setting also has another advantage over the city park locations used in other towns. While Siedlecki admitted that some of those sites had found their skateparks hit with graffiti or vandalism, he noted that the downtown location had two pluses: more eyes on the street 24/7, and its location across the street from the new Durham P.D. District 5 substation.

Besides the stairwells, the park will feature a "pit" modeled on a "legitimate backyard pool" and a covered ramada for spectators.

In the southeastern corner, Siedlecki envisions an interchangeable mix of public art and "skateable art" -- the latter of which could serve both aesthetic and recreation functions.

About twenty-five residents -- mostly skaters, with some Durham Central Park reps -- attended the meeting Tuesday night, and the group was generally enthusiastic about the design under consideration.

One skate enthusiast noted that Raleigh had held the groundbreaking for its skate park this week (a project Pillar is also involved in), and asked if it was really true that theirs would be done in a few months, while Durham's would take much longer to open.

Beth Timson from the City's Parks & Rec department noted that one of the challenges that would "slow us down" was the requirement that the project develop a site plan and go through the under-scrutiny development review process before work could begin.

Siedlecki noted that he had intentionally recommended very different designs for the skateparks in Raleigh and Durham to offer skaters in the region two different types of facilities.

Timson also noted that a change in state law a few years back had opened the door for municipalities to build skate parks, by allowing "at your own risk" signage to release cities from liability for facilities such as these.

Comments

Joshua Allen

This looks pretty cool. I'm curious exactly where this is going: the southeast corner of Durham Central Park. That sounds like the area where the pedestrian bridge is. Where is this in relation to that?

Kevin Davis

@JA: Sorry, I should have been more clear. We're talking about the corner of Hunt & Rigsbee, to the east of the pedestrian trail and bridge.

bennc

I know many Durham skaters have presented proposals for close to 10 years only to see them turned down and there is a definite "believe it when we see it" mentality. That said there is a huge "market" for this. Just ask Ujamma boardshop owner "Nick" who has a steady stream of middle school and high school customers as soon as school lets out. As a parent and homeowner who will be able to walk to this park when its done I couldn't be more excited.

GreenLantern

I'll bet the skatepark will get more use than the senior center across the street that we paid millions for--without a cafeteria.

Todd

GL - There's a 2 perfectly good, publicly owned commercial kitchens in downtown Durham that could be used to prepare food for the Senior Center:
-The Civic Center / Marriott
-The Durham County Detention Center
One would obviously be more cost effective than the other...

I have to admit having mixed feeling about the skate park. On one hand, it would be a unique amenity to serve a small niche of the community.

On the other hand, I wonder how many long overdue park renovations could be completed with this money. After all, how may of our public parks have no operable restrooms? And no, port-a-pottys don't count.

steve rawn

I am sure there are many Cadd draftsmen/skaters out there willing to help out with a site plan. Whatever it takes to speed up the process. I have been drafting for Landscape Architects, Civil Engineers, and have been a reinforced concrete rebar detailer for the past 6+ years out of the hurricane state of Florida, so a site plan seems fairly simple to get the wheels rolling. If there is anything I can do to help... AWESOME DESIGN!!! Hope I can skate it one day

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