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In the News Index

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: March 20, 2005
Byline: Susan Snyder

Two designs for skateboard park are unveiled

Skateboarders are closer to getting a new park in Philadelphia.

Architects and designers have created two proposed renderings of Schuylkill River Skatepark, which will be just south of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

And in May, they will unveil the final rendering after considering community input on both versions.

The "shard scheme" can best be described as "fingers in the landscape," said architect Anthony Bracali. It would feature a variety of "skatable sculptures," terraces and curved benches and offer great views along the Schuylkill.

The "spiral scheme" would lead inward in a swirling motion and include a stage area in the center that could be used for concerts or other performances.

"This scheme is kind of looking in toward the center point, whereas the other scheme is kind of looking out at everything around it," explained Brian Nugent of SkateNerd, one of the organizations helping with the designs.

About 100 people, many with skateboards in hand, turned out Friday evening at a meeting to learn about the designs.

Architects, design teams and consulting engineers have been preparing the drawings since the skateboarding community gave input at a series of meetings earlier this year.

The new park comes in response to the city's decision to aggressively enforce a skateboard ban in JFK Plaza, popularly known as LOVE Park, after it was renovated in 2002. Mayor Street promised to create a new place for skateboarders to replace LOVE Park, which had become one of the most famous skateboarding spots in the country.

No matter which design is chosen, the park will feature green spaces, seating, and spots for nonskaters, as well. It will mesh with the surrounding bike path and landscape.

About 50 percent of the new park will be "skatable," architects estimated – although, as any enterprising skateboarder will attest, just about any spot can be used for that purpose.

But some skateboard enthusiasts thought the whole park should be dedicated to skateboarders.

"You make it skateboarding here. Walking there. Skateboarding here. Walking there. I think it should be skateboarding... everywhere," said Robert Williams, 20, a Temple University student.

Nugent, of SkateNerd, countered that if it were only a skate park, it would have to be fenced in. All kinds of rules, such as helmet laws, would be enforced.

"The City of Philadelphia has agreed that this should be a public space with multiple uses," he said. "You should be able to use it like public space without rules and regulations."

He said that some of the areas not designed for skating could be used, but added: "If a lot of people are standing there, it would be nice not to skate there."

Drew Allan, 30, a Philadelphia furniture designer, said he had never witnessed a nasty confrontation between a skateboarder and a pedestrian. He also noted that LOVE Park was never designed for skateboards.

"Skateboarders will find a way," he said.

Donna Ferrari of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association said she was pleased that the park would accommodate walkers and others.

"In both schematics, I was pleased to see that there were walkways that people from the neighborhood, people from the bike path could transition back off of the park... and be out of the mainstream of the skaters," she said. homepage

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