Where should the Union of Youth skateboard park be located?

2009 temporary skatepark at Babcock Park 2009 temporary skatepark at Babcock Park
I see in the minutes for the January PRAB (Parks & Rec Advisory Board) meeting (page 4 of the Feb. packet), that there was a presentation by the Northfield  Union of Youth about their skateboard park equipment.

The group is looking for guidance on the next step. The $10,000 grant they obtained will expire at the end of 2012. They are looking for a permanent place for their newly acquired equipment. Discussion with the PRAB and the group included past skate park issues, possible sites, and monitoring of the park. Staff will begin looking at the size requirements for the equipment, and costs associated with pavement, fencing and other expenses. Staff will also research user fees and costs for staffing a skate park.

For background, see this Jan. 20 Nfld News article Equipment purchase gives proposed skatepark a boost:

A half pipe, quarter pipe, a pyramid, rails and more — are all now owned by the Union of Youth, also known as The Key.

“I was like ‘sweet,’ finally,” said Jared Larson of the purchase, a deal brokered with the help of city Streets & Parks Supervisor TJ Heinricy.


  1. Gene Finger said:

    I wish that we had a city park close to where we live so that the
    Skate Park could be situated there. It would be so interesting to watch the young people enjoy themselves.

    February 27, 2012
  2. In 2008, or whenever this was really an issue being discussed a lot, I was opposed to an Ames Park skatepark. I was wrong, and I hope that location comes up again.

    For 362 days a year, that park is just a ditch for Highway 3 — this would bring some real human vitality to the park. It’s also universally accessible from east and west residential areas, and a short walk to The Key, even at its new location. I think development of this sort would nicely complement the Sesquicentennial Legacy Plaza on the other side of the river.

    February 29, 2012
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Yesterday’s Nfld News: Parks board grinding away on finding skatepark site

    The board last week considered several temporary sites, but asked city staff to review some alternate locations and report their findings at the board’s April 19 meeting. Among the locations, said board Chair Nathan Knutson, were the basketball court adjacent to City Hall, at the rear of the Safety Center and near the middle and high schools…

    Riverside Park, on the east side of the Cannon River near Eighth Street, was home to the first city skatepark. Opponents of that site believe it’s too close to the city’s Veterans Memorial and would increase the likelihood of vandalism to the monuments.

    Knutson said he expects the board to determine a temporary location for the equipment, which the Union of Youth bought this winter for pennies on the dollar, and review the site after about a year’s worth of use to determine whether to make that the skatepark’s permanent location.

    March 22, 2012
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    Why would locating the skatepark equipment on the asphalt pad at Riverside “increase the likelihood of vandalism to the monuments” at the Veterans Memorial?

    It didn’t happened when the roller hockey rink was on it, far as I know. Are our skateboarders known to be more irresponsible than our hockey players?

    I thought the objections to Riverside were from the residents of Village on the Cannon who didn’t like the noise.

    I think the plan to “review the site after about a year’s worth of use to determine whether to make that the skatepark’s permanent location” is a good one. Let’s try it Riverside. It’s ready now.

    March 22, 2012
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Might there be room for the skatepark equipment in the parking lot at the NCRC building?

    March 22, 2012
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Sean, I like the Ames Park location, too. But now with the movable skatepark equipment, the momentum on the PRAB apparently is to find a location to test that has already enough concrete or asphalt. Seems reasonable to me.

    March 22, 2012
  7. My understanding from that article was that asphalt was unsuitable because it gets too soft in the summer heat. It seems like the Village on the Cannon pad or NCRC parking lot would have the same issue. (NCRC is also not very central, of course.)

    No idea how much concrete is needed, or how much it costs the City, but it seems like the Skateboard Coalition funds could go a long way toward work at Ames Park. Seems like it would be money well spent for the Coalition to claim a permanent spot.

    March 22, 2012
  8. John Thomas said:

    Couldn’t one of the outdoor hockey rinks be modified slightly near the Hockey Arena, or the one behind Tacoaisis to accommodate a permanent home for this, that is accessible by the new trail, in a park environment, has parking and lighting available, and is in close proximity to fast food, etc?

    One would think the area in Babcock park behind Tacoaisis would be good if some concrete were laid, especially if some of the natural slope was incorporated into the design.

    I do think that the pad in Riverside park is quite big, but may not be in good order, or all that smooth for skating. That location seems that it would invite potential noise issues with the residents of Village on the Cannon.

    I really do like the City Hall idea. Give them a nice pad, close to the pool, and on a bus route… seems pretty good to me.

    It just bothers me that this is still an issue, three years later…still trying to find a home for this. This group deserves better.

    How much concrete do they need to do this right? A basketball court seems rather small.

    March 22, 2012
  9. Marie Fischer said:

    Haven’t been on here in a long time, but this is always a topic very dear to me.

    As always, I think Ames would be an amazing location, but that was back when the idea of an all-concrete, brand new skate plaza was still the plan.

    My issues with the already tarmac-ed spaces across the highway is just that, they are across the highway. This would mean that skaters would have to walk back and forth across 3 everytime they visited and left, went to get food. This is taking into account that the most visited areas by skaters will be the Key and downtown.

    Another issue with the aforementioned space and even the sites by schools is that they are reasonably remote. With certain cities and towns that have a lot of sprawl (and young people are required to drive everywhere anyway) this is just an accepted detail: their skatepark is going to be remote. But with Northfield, a town that prides itself in walk- and bike-ability, it’s almost a little cruel to put a skatepark far away from downtown.

    I do really like the city hall idea. It’s in a decently central, walkable (/skateable) location, good-intentioned location.

    Is Ames still in the running as a possible location? At all? I wish I knew more about this.

    By the way, I’m a terrible writer… it’s one hundred times more sensible when you hear me say these things in person, I promise.

    March 23, 2012
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Marie, thanks much for continuing to chime in on this issue. I would say that Ames Park is still in the long-term running. The Parks board, however, really wants to test the location since the equipment is movable… and of course, if money can be saved by putting it on existing asphalt, so much the better.

    What’s your opinion about Riverside Park where the original skate park was located?

    March 27, 2012
  11. Griff Wigley said:

    Sean, I don’t see how the softness of the asphalt at Riverside would be a problem. Roller hockey skates had no problem there last year, far as I know.

    A permanent spot is the goal, of course, but I think that’s a long way off. The movable equipment allows the PRAB to learn… like last year, we learned that Babcock Park was not a good spot.

    March 27, 2012
  12. Griff Wigley said:


    I don’t think existing hockey rinks work because ice can’t then be made on top of black asphalt during the winter. And the area (Babcock park behind Tacoaisis) is too remote for the social nature of a skatepark.

    March 27, 2012
  13. Griff. I don’t understand. From the article you posted:

    The asphalt on that site also creates a problem, said Amy Merritt, director of the Northfield Union of Youth, which has backed the Skatepark Coalition since its inception in 2006. The asphalt gets warm in the summer and softens, she said, making skateboarding difficult.

    Is Village on the Cannon asphalt substantially different than Babcock Park asphalt?

    In any case, why does a permanent spot need to be a long way off? I understand the reluctance to buy new equipment, but selecting Ames Park (or whatever) and installing an acceptable paving surface seems like it could be done fairly quickly. In the long term, the movable equipment could be replaced with permanent equipment installed at the site.

    Now I don’t skateboard and I never have. But I know those who do want this space. And from a nonskater perspective, I’ve seen the sense of vitality this sort of thing can bring to a space. And we squandered that vitality last year by hiding it behind Culvers — and we’ll do the same thing at any of these other sites. A skatepark at Ames Park brings that vitality of people actually using a space to the busiest, most visible intersection in town. And it replaces what is currently only in use a few days of the year (other than the geese toilet and billboard field functions).

    March 27, 2012
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    Sean, I saw no evidence of asphalt problems at Babcock or Riverside so I don’t know. I’m guessing that concrete is the surface of choice for a skatepark, but in the interim, existing asphalt, as long as it’s smooth, seems workable.

    April 5, 2012

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