Plans for new skate park in Flint continue to progress

FLINT, Michigan -- A concept for a new skate park in Flint is getting closer to reality, as community organizers gave feedback on a preliminary design during a meeting at Factory Two makerspace in July.

The efforts to bring a new park to Flint are being led by Flint Sk810, a volunteer organization that formed as a way to organize and raise funds for construction and operation of a park that would replace the current one at Swartz Creek Golf Course off of Hammerberg Road. The current skate park features ramps and other elements that are aging and were not designed to withstand Michigan winters.

The conceptual design is being done by Grindline Skateparks, a Seattle-based business that has designed more than 400 skate parks around the world. The new park would be poured concrete and other permanent materials. 

“Flint deserves to have a proper, well-designed, durable park like communities  all  over the state have,” said Mike Wright, chair of the Flint Sk810 committee.

During the July community meeting, Wright noted the long history of skateboarding in the city of Flint. Skateboarders have commonly used the downtown Flint landscape since the 1980s.

Several grassroots organizations and efforts exist to promote the sport to young people in the city. Jenna Bankston, co-owner of Brush Alley Skateshop downtown Flint, organizes a monthly meetup for girls interested in skateboarding. The Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village hosted camps and sessions to teach kids about skateboarding over the summer. And since its formation, Flint Sk810 has organized community events and cleanups aimed at bringing the community together.

A new skate park would allow those and other future programs to expand.

“Not every kid that tries skateboarding is going to be great at it, but it does help kids make connections and friendships,” Wright said. “It’s gonna help them discover who they are. It’s just another path for improving yourself and developing.”

Now that a design concept is getting closer to being finalized, organizers are shifting attention to fundraising. Wright said they need to raise about $1 million to fund the project, with national, regional, and local funders already expressing interest. The Tony Hawk Foundation, started by the legendary professional skateboarder, provides grants and funding to projects aimed at expanding the sport in communities around the country and globally. 

Wright also noted the positive economic impact of having a new, modern skate park in the city. Similar venues in cities all over Michigan draw kids and families from communities all over. They also allow local municipalities to host events and other activities. Visually, well-designed skate parks are also just interesting to look at and add unique elements to local character.

“I want visibility (for the park),” Wright said. “It’s the sort of thing that adds to the tapestry. Even if skating might not be your scene, the fact that there’s an activity happening there makes it feel like this is a lively place, there’s good energy here. There’s been analysis on the economic impact investing in public spaces like this. It’s going to benefit the community, the restaurants, the local skate shops. People can come here for this and visit other places too.”

For updates about the project, follow Flint Sk810 on Facebook and Instagram. The Brush Alley Skateshop Facebook page has upcoming Girls Meet Up & Skate and other events listed.

Read more articles by Patrick Hayes.