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24 Feb 2009 | Leave A Comment

It’s that time of year again. They moved the competition to Detroit however, so I’m not sure if anyone from our area will be making the extra long trip this year. But as usual the gracious hosts have posted the DVD of last years event online, to get everyone hyped for this years event, and I thought I would post it here for everyone to enjoy.

BitterColdShowdown.com

(BCSD08 PART ONE)

(BCSD08 PART TWO)

(BCSD08 PART THREE)

23 Feb 2009 | Leave A Comment

The Parkersburg Register has just published part 2 of an article on the Parkersburg Skate Plaza. This week they interview Chad Mildren, chairman of the Downtown Task Force Skate Park Committee, as well as describe Wheeling, WV’s similar process of grassroots fund raising all the way to major grant and donation fund raising.

From everyone at the Parkersburg Skate Plaza Foundation, Inc, we would like to thank the Parkersburg Register for taking the time and interest in our project, and helping us spread the word in a positive light.

Last week, insight was given toward the desire of a new skate park in Parkersburg. From a local voice, we learned why the call for this type of facility has been growing in recent years and how movement is being made toward turning this hope into a reality.

This week, we talk to another person involved with the organization of a Parkersburg skate park and look at a neighboring community that has built its own park for tips on how a grass roots fund-raising effort of this type is realized.

The skate park is planned for a new Parkersburg park along the Little Kanawha River, across from the East Street Bridge. Estimates of its cost approach $350,000.

Chad Mildren, chairman of the Downtown Task Force Skate Park Committee, recently participated in a meeting to finalize fund-raising plans, and he is now working on applications to the Tony Hawk Foundation and the Land and Soil Conservation Grant, among other forms of financial support.

“There hasn’t been a lot of movement in the past couple of days,” said Mildren. “But the meeting at the municipal building went very well. It was good to see how much support we have from the community.”

Mildren said the community has been trying to build this type of park for 15 years now, and that when the site became available by the Little Kanawha River, he thought it was the perfect location to host a skating facility.

The total cost of the park is an estimated in the $350,000 for a 15,000 square-foot facility. Mildren said he hopes to have the funds raised by June, followed by a summer design phase with construction to begin sometime in the fall.

“We may have to postpone this schedule in the face of our recent economic downturn, but we won’t know until we start (the fund-raising),” said Mildren.

Of the several locations where skate parks have become a success in their communities, one of the closest examples comes out of Wheeling. Mildren said this is one of the locations he’s looked at to get an idea of what to expect from the process of building a skate park in Parkersburg.

In Wheeling, Diana Mey and and her son sparked a community effort to raise the funds needed to pay for the construction of their skate park.

“It started out as a truly genuine grass roots effort,” said Mey. “Our fund raising was very basic at the beginning, but then I learned how to write grants. The first grant that really gave us some prominence was the Tony Hawk Foundation, which first gave us $1,000 and then later provided $25,000 to the costs.”

Mey’s organization was also given a $100,000 joint grant from the State National Parks Service and the West Virginia Development Office and a small grant from Brad Paisley, a music celebrity from Wheeling. who didn’t mind contributing to the plan. But outside of these huge financial provisions, the small group of neighborhood skaters and supporters held car washes, sold Pepsi and T-shirts at local festivals, and made bumper stickers that announced their cause.

“It was a lot of work, but I felt that we could make it happen,” said Mey. “And I think probably a big advantage come from having magnificent cooperation from our city officials. Now we have, what I like to call, the busiest playground in the city of Wheeling.”

With all these factors set in place, after six years of effort, Wheeling was able to hire Grindline Skate Parks to construct their facility, which consisted half of street-style obstacles (ramps, raised edges, grinding rails) and half a full-scaled bowl (a large and curvaceous in-ground pool).

Rusty Jebbia, Wheeling’s public works director, who was involved with the construction, said that the local skaters were encouraged to be involved with the design and creation of the park’s final look.

At first, Jebbia said, the consensus was that the kids wanted to have a street setup for the entire park, this because many newer skaters were intimidated by the bowl portion; however, as these newcomers gained confidence and skill, they left the street design behind and started focusing primarily on the bowl.

Following the dedication on October 21, 2007, the reputation of what Wheeling had built — a 10,000 square-foot park costing $330,000 — started gathering attention from the skating community.

“When word first started getting around, I couldn’t believe all the license plates from out-of-town-skaters,” said Jebbia. “We’ve had people from Oregon, California, Las Vegas, Georgia, and Florida, all of them skaters saying they had heard of what we had built and were stopping in to skate it for themselves.”

- James Maddox

13 Feb 2009 | One Comment

The Parkersburg Skate Plaza Foundation, Inc in the Parkersburg Register

The Parkersburg Register recently interviewed  Chad Mildren of the Downtown Task Force Committee, as well as myself, about this project of our’s. Check out the article below.

A spot light has recently been turned on the future of skating in Parkersburg. Advocates of the sport say dispelling the negative stereotypes tied to youth and their skate boards zipping along public sidewalks will go a long way toward making a skate park in Parkersburg a reality.

A proposal to construct a new skating facility at a new city recreation area along the Little Kanawha River and the East Street Bridge is advancing in the community. In recent months, the Wood County Commission has given $10,000 toward the project. The Parkersburg area doesn’t have a skating facility.

‘Skaters want a skate park simply because we don’t have one,’ said Alan Hughes, web designer, contributor, and long-time supporter of the Parkersburg Skate Plaza Foundation. ‘If there were no basketball courts in Parkersburg, basketball players would want at least one court built. It’s common sense.’

According to Hughes, negative stereotypes are the only reason there hasn’t been a skating facility here for the past 20 years.

‘People who could actually make things happen never want to help because they considered skaters bad people,’ said Hughes. ‘They consider us bad people because we skate on property not designated to be skated on, but we skate at these places because there aren’t any designated areas, so it just becomes this vicious cycle that we can’t seem to break, but that’s what we’re working on now and it’s slowly coming around.’

In fact, within the past few decades, skating has gradually become as common a pastime as many other sports in the nation. Media coverage, exhibition tournaments, gaming consoles, and even communities have embraced the sport, and it seems likely that, given enough time, skating will grow even more prevalent as a recognized and accepted activity.

‘People understand skating more nowadays,’ said Hughes. ‘Ever since the media made such a big deal over Tony Hawk’s ’900,’ people realized that we are actually trying to land tricks and that it takes a lot of talent, practice, and determination to be able to do these things, and they seem to respect it more.’

The particular stunt Hughes references is a 900-degree aerial spin that Hawk performed on a half pipe in June of 1999. Hawk was the first skater to ever land the trick that year. He then performed the stunt again at the 2001 X Games under regulation time so the feat could be officially recorded.

Since this accomplishment, Hawk has gone on to become a recognizable figure in many forms of media and pop culture, appearing in movies, games, tournaments, and even having a Six Flags roller coaster bear his name.

It’s huge strides of popular recognition such as this that are helping skaters dig out their own spot in routine American culture.

‘A lot of people don’t realize that a skate park is something a community can be proud of and not have to look at it as a solution to a problem,’ said Hughes. ‘We can be proud of a skater’s talent just as we are of any other athlete.’

Over the past few years, said Hughes, Roy and Shirley Collins, the two heads of the Parkersburg Skate Plaza Foundation, have been doing anything and everything they can to raise money for a skating location in the city. From recycling soda cans to selling T-shirts to holding car washes, they and their supporters have been out trying to make their cause visible to Parkersburg citizens.

‘We are trying to organize a ‘bowl-a-thon’ and spaghetti dinner in the near future,’ said Hughes. ‘We also hope to put on some live shows with the help of Shawn Surrie and his skate shop, Omega Ramps, in Williamstown.’

The estimated cost of the proposed skate park is around $350,000 to $500,000, which, Hughes said, is really modest when compared to other project budgets in the city.

‘Right now, we have $45,000,’ said Hughes. ‘And we have a number of applications out right now with much larger numbers attached.’

Still, Hughes admitted that getting this project to be portrayed in a favorable light has been a task.

The whole project is one big road block at times, he said. It has been pretty well blocked for the past 20 years; however, he thinks that with the project’s new activity, people will get excited and be willing to come out in their favor.

Next week: How might a skate park be included in the city of Parkersburg’s construction plans?”

- James Maddox