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Arts & Culture

Skate Park Opens In Charleston Giving Youth Options To Play

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Eric Douglas
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WVPB
Ben Coll, one of two Bens instrumental in the creation of Charleston's skate park, skated through the ribbon to open the facility.

Skateboarders have been asking for a skate park in Charleston for decades. That wish finally came true Thursday.

Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin, along with members of the local skate community and local artists, opened Charleston’s first community skate park. The city council authorized the park in December 2020.

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Eric Douglas
Charleston Mayor Amy Schuler Goodwin, Ben Coll and Ben Barkey at the opening of the Charleston community skate park.

Two generations of skaters, both named Ben, joined Goodwin at the official ribbon cutting for the park. Ben Barkey remembers writing a letter to the editor of the Charleston Gazette more than 30 years ago.

I skated with the editor of the paper at the time, Jim Haught's kids,” Barkey said. “I can remember calling him and asking him, ‘Hey, can we get some help to try to get a park built here?’.”

The other Ben was Ben Coll. The mayor explained that he was instrumental in getting a section of the park built with smaller equipment for smaller riders. And when she told him she wasn’t sure she could go back to the city council for more money for that equipment, he told her that he would talk to them.

The mayor also recognized local artists for the murals that were painted for the skate park on the pillars supporting the interstate. The skate park is located under the interstate bridge near Magic Island.

Goodwin said the skate park is another opportunity to get kids active.

“We're saying to our kids ‘go outside and play’ but unless you give them a safe place to play, what are they to do, especially if they don’t play football or basketball or baseball,” she said.

The final push for the mayor was a teen town hall the city held on the West Side not long after she took office.

There was a group of young kids that sat in the front row. And we were asking them ‘what can we do? We'll do anything,” she said. The resounding answer was they wanted a skatepark.

Many skaters who cut their teeth in the 1980s are still skating and now can grind with their own kids.

I'm 55 years old, and I'll be out there and I have some other friends who are even a few years older than me. I won't name any names, but I know they will be there,” Barkey said. “Every generation will be able to use this park. And I think that's great, too.”

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Eric Douglas
A skater tests out a new ramp at the Charleston community skate park.

Now that the skate park is open, skaters will be able to practice their tricks and have fun from dawn to dusk every day. The mayor said she expects this will also be a tourism draw for the city, bringing in young people and families from all over the region.

The park includes two bank ramps, 15 quarter pipes, four half pipes, grind ledges, slant pads, spines, jump boxes, roll-ins and more. Several safety features have been included including fastener-free riding surfaces, baluster guardrails, maxgrip polyester powder coat to create extra corrosion protection and grip and tamper-resistant hardware. All steel ramp components of the skate park are also covered by a 20-year limited warranty.

Admission to the skate park is free. It is open daily between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.


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