Tag Archives: skatepark

Glen Iris Neighborhood endorses plans for skatepark in George Ward Park

07012013JulyskateparkmtgThis month the Glen Iris Neighborhood Association drew its highest attendance ever for a single meeting. Monday, July 1, saw nearly 100 people gathered at St. Elias Maronite Church to hear what residents had to say about a potential skate park at George Ward Park. The neighborhood association had tabled discussion about the project at their May meeting until further research could be investigated.

The meeting started 20 minutes late and initially focused on the regular business of the neighborhood. Cris Worley from the A.Skate Foundation was introduced, after which association vice president Michael Gray explained that audience members’ comments would be limited to two minutes. Worley was then given the floor and she addressed misinformation recently circulated around the neighborhood, the A.Skate Foundation and its programs, and how skateboarding is neurologically beneficial to autistic children.

Peter Karvonen, owner of Faith Skate Supply, talked about the 3,500 skateparks that have been constructed throughout the country the past six years. He also related the history of the old Vestavia Hills skatepark. A third speaker, criminologist Christy Ivy, addressed the concerns from a crime and constructive policy angle.

All three speakers defended skaters from the stereotypes most recently perpetuated by a flyer circulating around the city, addressing such things as potential noise issues, the look of the park, and those perceiving skateboarders as “thugs on drugs.”

The majority of speakers from the audience were overwhelmingly supportive of the skatepark. A few naysayers voiced their opinions as well. To everyone’s credit, the discussion remained civil and engaging.

Many Glen Iris residents spoke of appreciating the diversity in the neighborhood. Others explained how, although they were not interested in skateboarding, it should not stop others from enjoying the activity. A local architect urged his fellow residents to stop the “what if” debates and work on Birmingham being “first” with something rather than always last. A 40-year resident of the neighborhood reminded people of how disconnected to reality it seems when they approve land for use by dogs but are considering refusing it to a use by people.

After the discussion, a motion was made to approve the skatepark at the triangular site in the northwest corner of the park. Glen Iris residents were asked to stand and raise their right hand to vote in favor of the skatepark. The motion passed 52 – 9 (with one abstention), thus clearing a major hurdle for the skatepark plans to move forward.

Additional items discussed at the meeting:

  • City councilor Valerie Abbott reminded everyone about a meeting in Jasper called by the Black Warrior Riverkeeper on July 9 to discuss strip mining along the river. (Those opposed to the mining but unable to attend the Jasper meeting can contact the Alabama Surface Mining Commission in Montgomery).
  • UAB is instituting a campus public transit system where students and employees can ride for free.


Glen Iris Neighborhood Considers Skatepark

crowds growing. Faith Skate Supply/Flickr.Crys Worley, founder of the A.Skate Foundation, presented concepts for a proposed skatepark in George Ward Park at last night’s Glen Iris neighborhood association meeting.

Worley’s foundation teaches autistic children how to skateboard. The organization sets up and run clinics nationwide. It is also currently working with the Lakeshore Foundation and Wounded Warriors as well as working with a UAB study to measure the neurological effects of skateboarding on autistic children.

Members of the neighborhood association and city officials have, as previously reported, had several meetings with Worley to discuss possible sites within the park. The current proposed plan would have the skatepark taking up about one third of the terrace land located between the dog park and the tennis courts. It would take up anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 square feet of space and would cost roughly $450,000 to construct.

Worley explained that the CEO of VANS, Inc., recently visited Birmingham and the company is interested in providing funds for the park (something they have done elsewhere). He also suggested the company is interested in considering the city as a future stop on the popular VANS Warped Tour.

Overall, attendees expressed their support for Worley, A-Skate, and for a skatepark at George Ward both throughout the meeting and afterwards. They did, however, want to ensure that plenty of green space remains in the park.

The biggest concern of the audience at the meeting was that the terrace section is one of the few sections remaining at George Ward that is not dedicated to a specific use. One questioner wondered why Bessie Estell Park, located just west of Epic Elementary School, was not considered. Reasons cited included a lack of parking and noise concerns from the nearby St. Elias Maronite Church.

Those residents present requested Worley return to a future meeting with designs that show what the skatepark’s footprint would look like in relation to the current park layout. They would also like to hear testimonials of other cities who have skateparks in their municipal parks.

Photo: Zero/DGK Tour. Faith Skate Supply/Flickr.

A skate park update

For those of you who haven’t ventured through the comments and the site to learn more about the skate park situation, allow me to share what Peter Karvonen of Faith Skate Supply posted under the relating Magic City Question:

“We are talking with people in the mayor’s office right now and they are very open to the idea of a public skatepark. We have gotten as far as looking for proposed sites now. The city owns the property at sloss north of 1st Ave. North. They are talking with the right people now in hopes that a skatepark conjoined with sloss furnaces would be a great relationship.

I invision a concrete park there with metal skateable sculptures that would be made there at the furnaces steel works! Sounds amazing to me!”

Definitely sounds like something that would be uniquely Birmingham depending on where the proccess goes… and it will lend itself nicely to my editorial tomorrow morning.