January 20, 2016

Skateboarders invited to meeting on new Buxton skate park


A new skate park is on the horizon for Hatteras Island -- replacing the now-removed skate park that was behind the Fessenden Center in Buxton -- and the public’s help is needed to craft a design that will best suit island boarders.

A public meeting is planned for Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Fessenden Center to give local residents the opportunity to voice their opinions on what the skate park should entail and to learn more about the methodology for the upcoming project.

The new skate park is a project that has been in the works for months, but it came to a crucial point in December when the Board of Commissioners (BOC) selected the developer that would move forward with the construction.

Tim White, the program director for the Dare County Parks and Recreation Department, has been working on this project from the beginning, and has been the go-to person for creating a rough cost estimate, following up with an approval committee, and, eventually, presenting the project to the BOC. (The skate park is being paid for by county funds.)

“We [originally] had some skate board structures at the Fessenden Center, and we had a good following and daily attendance,” says White. “But [the equipment] was old – mainly a wood bowl and railing – and it required a lot of maintenance and was becoming dangerous. It was time to replace it and upgrade to the current style of skating equipment people are using today.”

The new design will utilize concrete – not wood – and will be completely customized based on both the locale and the public’s requests. White said $165,000 is budgeted for the park.

The five companies that were up for consideration included a skate park developer from Florida, one from Seattle, two from California, and one from Dare County.

The home-grown company, Artisan Skateparks, was chosen for the project.

“All five were very qualified,” says White. “Artisan was the most cost-conscious out of the five that were submitted, and we wanted to do what we could to hire locally.”

The Dare County Parks and Recreation has worked with Artisan before for the skate park in Kitty Hawk, and the company has an impressive record of park construction all across the country, and even outside the United States.

Andy Duck, president of Artisan Skateparks, is also a lifelong skateboarder and has a team of avid skateboarders as well to lend their expertise to the project.  

“Somehow we always hire people who are very familiar with skateboards. It makes for a better product,” he says.

Artisan Skateparks started in 2003 and is a collaboration of more than 25 years of combined custom skate park construction and design.

“Every one [skate park] is completely different – we never build the same one twice. Everything is custom,” says Duck.

And now that the groundwork has been laid, and the construction company has been selected, the next step is where Hatteras Island residents come into play.

“In our opinion, the local users are the key stakeholders, so it benefits everyone to enlist their help,” says Duck.

The Jan. 27 meeting will be the first of three planned for the project, according to Duck.

At this initial meeting, the public can essentially voice what they want, which will be considered based on what the site can accommodate.

This feedback will be transformed into two or three designs, which will then be discussed by the public at the second meeting. At the third meeting, a final rendition will be unveiled. There may also be a blog or website link along the way where people can post their comments online during the process.

Anyone who is interested in skateboarding or who wants to learn more about the project is encouraged to attend to have his or her voice heard.

“It’s very important that we try to build the parks based on what the community would like to see, and also get as much community involvement as possible,” says White. “We have had people for several years tell us that the skateboard community needs a park on Hatteras Island. And it was important to me to update it to designs that people skate on today.”

Once the final design is approved, it will still take several months to go from breaking ground to completion, but for many Hatteras Island skateboarders who miss the old equipment behind the Fessenden Center, the approval of the project is a reason to celebrate.

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