An infusion of cash, enthusiasm and some cooperation among community entities launched a project to build a new skate park in the Ypsilanti area.
In August, the Tony Hawk Foundation and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced the award of a $250,000 Built to Play grant to build a park in the Ypsilanti area with a match of $250,000 pledged from The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. Those involved hope to break ground by Summer 2019.
“Everyone is really excited and we can see the momentum building,” said Meghan Bonfiglio, deputy director of the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, who said she has been “blown away” by the support in the skating community.
Ypsilanti hopes for a skate park
Since 2011, a group of local advocates has had high hopes of building a permanent skate park, and, thanks to the awarded funds, a new skate park is planned, with a location yet to be determined.
The idea gained momentum after supporters approved the Ypsilanti Parks Board last spring about a new park. Among presenters was 17-year-old skater Mauricio Mejia and Ann Arbor resident Trevor Staples. Staples, who helped in the effort to build the Ann Arbor Skatepark, facilitates the Built to Play program for the Tony Hawk Foundation in Southeast Michigan.
A backward Cinderella story
Ypsilanti skater and community advocate Cory Spivey calls receiving the grant a bit of a “backward Cinderella story”— the money and the support to build the park is secured before deciding on a location or choosing a design. The City of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and Superior Township are all potential locations.
A public meeting in August drew about 30 interested community members and as many as 15 different locations were discussed. Supporters, he said, want the location to have factors such as high visibility, accessibility to and from bus routes, amenities nearby and space for the 10,000 square foot park installation.
Positives for the community
Supporters believe a park would be a positive for the community, attracting people of all ages and from all backgrounds, promoting healthy lifestyles and incorporating eco-friendly design principles for drainage and aesthetics.
“Ypsilanti is a very vibrant community and we want to continue that,” Spivey said. “We definitely want everyone to enjoy the park, whether it be skating or just watching.” He points out that the DIY skate park at Prospect Park already attracts a diverse group from young kids, teens, college students and adults from every walk of life.
Spivey is passionate about the sport and said the lessons learned by practicing the sport— like setting goals and achieving them, learning from mistakes and working hard— are applicable in life.
Staples explains skateboarding as a sport is taking off in popularity and has found its way to the world stage, making its debut in the 2020 Olympics in Japan. “All ages and ability levels can do this recreation together and learn from each other as well,” he adds.
Bonfiglio touts the community benefits of the skate park: “It’s a great opportunity for people to be active and for people of all ages to get out there and recreate.”
For updates on the Ypsilanti Skate Park follow
@ypsiskatepark on Instagram.