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Flint, MI—A state-of-the-art skate park could soon be coming to Flint.
In a meeting at Factory Two on July 13, Flint Sk810 chairman Mike Wright presented a plan for a new park to members of Flint’s skating community along with a representative from Grindline, the company in charge of designing and constructing the proposed park.
Wright said the turnout at the meeting and input given is emblematic of the community’s interest in being involved with the design of a park that’s right for Flint.
“There is clearly an appetite for being involved. People aren’t just waiting for it to happen, they want a voice in it. This is why we go out and do outreach in the community, to reach people and hear what they have to say,” Wright said.
The idea for a new park came as a result of Flint Sk810 identifying the need for a proper space for skaters. Currently, Flint’s only skate park, located on Hammerberg Road near the I-69 exit, features just a handful of temporary rails and ramps. Attendees at the meeting agreed the area isn’t designed for the sort of traffic and varying skill levels of skaters the Flint community draws.
As the meeting went on several skaters in attendance brought up suggestions for how to make the park more accessible to beginners while still offering a challenge as they improved. Others mentioned the idea of making the space friendly for BMX and scooter riders.
There was even mention of integrating design elements into the park that would make it friendly to handicapped individuals.
For one of the skaters present, Christopher Cassidy, who became enamored with Flint’s skateboarding scene last year, accessibility to for all riders of all ages and abilities is crucial. For him, skateboarding has allowed him to enjoy the city in a way he never did before and he does not want anyone missing out on that experience.
“I was welcomed into the community with open arms. I love skating because it allows people to travel amongst their community and get to see new things. Not to mention it’s also exercise and once you have a board, it’s basically free, Cassidy said.
Cassidy, who works with differently-abled individuals and serves as a Special Olympics coach said he was happy to hear others mention the need for accessibility.
“When a person brought up making the park accessible to individuals who have impairments or disabilities, I feel like that would just be a wonderful part to include this other part of the community,” Cassidy said.
Other attendees, like Nancy Edwards, the director of Keep Genesee County Beautiful, expressed a wish to a maintenance plan along with the proposition for the park.
“One thing I’ve learned is that new and shiny is great, but it doesn’t stay new and shiny, it has to be maintained. So when I’m looking at a project like this, I want to see the long-term maintenance plan,” Edwards said.
A similar concern was expressed by other attendees who worried about graffiti art possibly making some surfaces unskateable as well as bringing up concerns about potential flooding, something Grindline, the company designing and constructing the park, has already addressed.
After observing how multiple attendees mention accessibility, Wright said it made sense. For him and many others, skateboarding and the community surrounding proved to be life-changing.
“I think that there is a shared sentiment to try and make this accessible and available for as any people that can use it. As those of us that grew up skating … we understand just how transformative skateboarding is. Even if you never get good or never get a sponsorship, its the friends you make and the communities you connect with that stick around,” Wright said.
The current model for the skate park was designed to replace the Flint Skate Park and is estimated to be about 20,000 square feet in size.
The cost of the project is projected to be around $1 million, a portion of which has already been provided by national and local organizations like The Skate Park Project and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
Wright said Sk810 will soon be submitting more grant applications on top of starting a fundraiser, where he expects the park will need to make up the last $100,000 or so of funding.