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Posted on Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Ann Arbor breaks ground on world-class skatepark at Vets Park

By Ryan J. Stanton


Youths excited about the Ann Arbor Skatepark brought their skateboards with them to the groundbreaking ceremony on Friday afternoon.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Officials and members of the nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark gathered Friday to ceremonially break ground on a new concrete haven for skaters on the city's west side.

By next year, Veterans Memorial Park will be the home of a 30,000-square-foot, world-class skatepark designed by California-based designer Wally Hollyday.

"I can't wait until next year when we actually have the grand opening and there's going to be people skating on it," said Colin Smith, the city's parks and recreation manager. "It's going to be really exciting. It's going to bring more people into Ann Arbor to Vets Park."


Supporters of the skatepark pose for a picture Friday near a sign for the skatepark at the northwest corner of Veterans Memorial Park.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Construction is expected to begin quickly with the goal of completing all concrete work by this fall and some landscaping and other finishing touches wrapping up next spring.

Smith said the city hopes to have the grand opening in June. The skatepark, which will be free and open to the public, has been designed for all skill levels.

"I think when this started six years ago, it was very hard for people to believe or fathom that something like this could come to fruition," he said. "It's very nice to see it all coming together now, and it shows when you stick to something, how it can come to be. Rome wasn't built in a day."

For local skateboarders who've spent years looking over their shoulders while they've practiced their sport in a town with anti-skateboarding ordinances, it's a long-awaited relief.

While doing stunts off a concrete slab serving as a makeshift bank on a vacant downtown property recently, 18-year-olds Bradley Smith and Jacob Davison recalled they were in seventh grade when they first heard about the plans for a skatepark in Ann Arbor.

"We've known about it since the beginning, so we've been looking forward to it for years. I remember they had meetings at the library," Davison said.

Davison just graduated from Community High and is starting classes at Washtenaw Community College this fall. Smith just graduated from Pioneer High and is going to Eastern Michigan.

While they had hoped to see the skatepark come to fruition before graduating high school, they're just as excited it's finally happening.

"It's going to be awesome," Bradley Smith said. "It's going to attract people from everywhere. When you go to a skatepark in any other city, you meet everyone from all kinds of cities."


Bradley Smith, a recent Pioneer High School graduate, test his skills on a makeshift bank in downtown Ann Arbor on a recent afternoon.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Both teens attested that it's been hard over the years to find a good spot to practice their sport in Ann Arbor.

"If I get caught here, I'll get a ticket," Bradley Smith said. "I've gotten several warnings. I've had friends who've gotten their boards taken away and stuff just for like skating through the Diag."

They've traveled to other cities like Westland to visit skateparks and a tennis court designated for skateboarding in Ypsilanti's Prospect Park.

Keith Zeisloft, Ann Arbor's 15th District Court administrator, said there have been 131 tickets written for skateboarding in Ann Arbor over the past seven years, though the overwhelming majority of those have been on the University of Michigan campus. He said the fine is $100.

Trevor Staples, leader of the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, spoke Friday afternoon about the multi-year effort to get to the point of breaking ground. Supporters of the campaign — young and old alike — spent years raising funds from both public and private sources.

"I'm really excited and everyone who's here helped with this in some way," Staples said while standing at the future site of the skatepark at the northwest corner of Vets Park.

Stephen Kunselman, who called himself "the only skateboarder on City Council," said it was the community's passion that built the momentum that got government officials on board. He believes Ann Arbor is going to have the best skatepark in the state of Michigan.


Jacob Davison, a recent graduate of Community High, says he's looking forward to having an official skatepark to practice his sport in Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"We know it's going to be the best because Trevor and the skaters demanded the best to have it designed by a world-class skate company," he said.

The City Council voted unanimously last month to approve a roughly $1 million contract for the construction of the skatepark. The contract was awarded to the Ann Arbor-based Krull Construction Co., and the city agreed to contribute up to $424,312.

The total budget is $1,224,312, with $400,000 coming from the county and $300,000 from the state, and more than $100,000 from privately raised funds.

Julie Grand, chairwoman of the city's Park Advisory Commission, said the project is a great example of collaboration between multiple levels of government and private citizens in the community. She said she expects the skatepark will become a regional attraction.

"The goal is to mimic some of the street terrain that skaters like," Staples said. "There's always going to be skaters who like to skate the 'natural' terrain, but what's going to be best about this is it's a place for all of the skaters to congregate and socialize and just have fun together."

Watch a video of Staples' speech from the groundbreaking:

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Tue, Aug 13, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.

Glad to see that the larger community has been responsive to the hard work and committment of a group of citizens. Many other cities have already proven that skateparks can be safe. Another outdoor option for our young people is a good thing.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

Besides people complaining about taxes, it sounds like most others would prefer they would have constructed a giant couch, video screen and cheetos/mountain dew vending machine.

Blazingly Busy

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Ten years too late for my son. Other communities have skate parks that seem pretty popular but it took a long, long time for A2 to catch up. (So much for being progressive and cutting edge).


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

I just hope that for $1.2 M it gets a lot of use--it seems like a lot of money for a very small subset of the population to use. How about some competitions or scheduled "shows?"


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

Well, late school bussing and many school grants are gone, but at least we have a place for kids to go smoke pot and skateboard. Brilliant


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

matt1027 Is 27 the year you were born? Sure sounds like what most old geezers would say.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

Were you under the impression that the skate park money was taxpayer money taken away from the school budget? That's a novel theory, maybe you could provide some evidence. The citizens running the skatepark project are far more competent and fiscally responsible than the morons running AAPS.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

I would want to know if citizens are permitted to drive their ATV 4-wheelers over the ramps. I suspect the answer is a huge YES, but it would be nice if the article would address it.

Oldman McSkaterton

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 5:32 a.m.

For all the folks complaining about law suits and fear of the area losing value due to all the thugs or punks that will be visiting the area, selling their drugs and prostitutes (because this comes with the skate scene) lost your chance to complain by not showing up to the many different city council meeting where pretty much every detail was discussed and accounted for. All the kids that will skip school or sneak out in the middle of the night to skate? New flash...they are probably already doing that. Any what is the difference when kids who are forced to skate streets or parking lots and crack their head open there verses a skatepark? Why wasn't there a fence around that parking lot? There is no safe or legal place for my son and I to skate together. Skateboarding was soo important to me a growing up and all I want to teach my son to do (besides being a great human being) is skate! Another thing for all you will be very surprised at the community that the skaters will create and the pride that they will have in their very own skatepark! Watch them keep it clean...of trash and of vandalism. But you know...that's just an old skaters opinion.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

Prostitutes at a skateboard park? I would think that the young skateboarders do not have enough money (but that is not determined from personal experience!). "Watch them keep it clean...of trash and of vandalism." Wouldn't that be nice and also a first at a skateboard park. We will see.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

Will there be an area for the Grumblers?


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

Helmets and other protective gear should be required but, as Ryan Stanton knows, without supervision rules can not be enforced. Without a lockable fence and supervision how can operational hours be enforced? Who is going to prevent school age children from skipping classes to use the skateboard park? How will the use of alcohol and drugs and fights be prevented? You will notice that, with one exception, none of the children with skateboards pictured in this article has a helmet or any other safety gear. I fear that the city's immunity from liability will be tested shortly after the skatepark opens and I am not as confident as Ryan Stanton that the city has no financial risks, especially with its limited safety efforts. Signage and waivers even when properly used may not prevent adverse legal judgements.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Ryan, I have not in any of my comments referred to your personal beliefs about the level of safety that can be expected at the skateboar park. But your comments do support the impression that the City has adequate protections against law suits. In contrast, the following statement which you include in your first comment indicates that city officials are not entirely certain about the degree of liability coverage provided by the city's omnibus insurance policy: "City officials have stated several times now that the additional cost of insuring the skatepark, if any, will not be material." It is the "if any" language that is bothersome. They do not know? I will ask you to provide me with a copy of the City's insurance policy so I can see the actual wording for skateboard coverage and any limits on liability.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 9:07 a.m.

@Veracity — you're putting words in my mouth. I've never stated my personal opinion on the city's level of risk in operating a skate park.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 4:50 a.m.

Who prevents school aged children from skipping classes to go to all of the other parks, basketball courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, ice skating rinks, and swimming pools?

Section Six

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 3:35 a.m.

You forgot ... "and stay off my lawn!"


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 3:10 a.m.

I think this is great news, and I've never skated in my life. Most of the complaints on here are silly, as are most complaints on the Internet. I don't see anybody complaining about softball fields or basketball courts, not sure why this is any different.

Chip Reed

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 1:14 a.m.

@Ryan. Check caption. Sign is at the northwest corner, not northeast.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 9:02 a.m.

Thanks! Good catch.

Steve Hendel

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

Ryan, it is unclear who will pay the operating expenses of the skatepark. Do you know anything about this?

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

The repairs to the cracking concrete will likely be quite expensive.

5c0++ H4d13y

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

That's pretty generous. You give the city $800k and they make you pay for the maintenance.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

The agreement between the city and the skatepark group outlines that the nonprofit group is responsible for all costs for the operations and maintenance of the skatepark through Aug. 30, 2025.

Jaime Magiera

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 11:16 p.m.

A couple folks have said this already, but it's worth repeating: congratulations to Trevor, et al., who kept at this for *years*. Your dedication is an inspiration.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Will the city enforce graffiti laws ? every skate park I've seen has been tagged from top to bottom. or are they going to relax enforcement? just sayin


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

T say something will be prohibited and expect that will solve the problem flies in the face of reality. I am in favor of the park and hope graffiti is not a big issue.

Robert Lewis

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.

Go to Riley Park in Farmington on 8 Mile there is no major graffiti, only a few felt marker tags which is no more than what the courts, benches and other public spaces already have in this town.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

You didn't really say that with a straight face did you Ryan?

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

Graffiti will be prohibited


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 9:59 p.m.

Anything that gets this latest generation out of the house and away from computer games is great. Get Outside young people !

5c0++ H4d13y

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

THe latest generation is kept inside by their parents' fear of everything outside.

Kate Higgins

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Very excited that this is happening. Way to go, Trevor: how to model following your dreams and not letting any naysayers get you down.

Steve Hendel

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

...and for somehow getting the City to commit over $400,000 which could have gone for any of the many worthy public services which have been severely cut back over the past several years to a facility whose main ( not only) users will likely be a fairly small group-teenage males.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

So proud of you Trevor! I know how hard you have worked for this to happen! Way to go! You definitely get the first "Penguin Positive!"

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

FYI — it sounds like there will be signage posted at the skatepark stating that wearing a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards is strongly recommended and should be used at all times. The city also will encourage skaters to know their ability and skate accordingly.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

The city has liability insurance that covers all city property and that will include the skatepark. City officials have stated several times now that the additional cost of insuring the skatepark, if any, will not be material. "It basically falls under the city's entire insurance," Smith said. "It's really not much different than at Bandemer Park where we have a bike jump that's unsupervised. As can be the case when you use any of the parks, there's a chance for injury, but this is really just one more facility within a large system. It's not going to cause any material change in the city's insurance costs." The Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark group likes to point out that according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, skateboarding is less dangerous than football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and ice hockey, and about as dangerous as softball

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Swimming pools are fenced. Always. By law.


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

For all those worrying about liability, how do you think the city and parks deal with pools, play ground equipment, ice rinks and similar spots where major injuries and even death are possible?? I think the hysterics over a skate board park are unfounded - do a little research.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

I would think that the planned "signage posted at the skatepark stating that wearing a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards is strongly recommended and should be used at all times" would go a long way toward negating alleged gross negligence, and perhaps even alleged negligence. Of course, anyone with horrific injuries would still get a substantial settlement -- cases of "thin liability, terrible injuries" the City would want to keep away from a jury -- but presumably not a humongous one.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

Park hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Anyone sneaking in at night will be breaking the rules.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

So a minor who skates at the unfenced park at night, without protective gear, and is severely injured - that won't cost the city anything? Not even if a jury says the lack of fencing is gross negligence by the city? I am sure the city has completely thought this through and our concerns are completely unfounded. It must be all those lawyer commercials on the TeeVee that make me wonder if that could be true.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

"It's not going to cause any material change in the city's insurance costs." Let's see if that holds true with a severe head injury and parents with deep pockets.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

Great response. Thanks Ryan!


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

Thank you, Ryan. This is excellent information.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Congrats to Trevor and everyone involved! This is a huge success for the community!

Bertha Venation

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

Can't wait until the little darlings go to bed, so I can attend the "Hoveround Monster Jam!" What Fun! Whhheeeeeeeeee! Rock on, Granny.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

Have they obtained quotes for insurance yet? How much? Who pays? And, do they make band-aid vending machines?


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

So, how long before somebody cracks their head open and the city gets sued for millions?


Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Robert do u have some links to some stats? I played basketball up through college and never required hospitalization or medical treatment beyond taping an ankle before a game. My skateboarding "career" lasted about 2 days and ended with three broken vertabra? Not too many youtube vids of guys getting messed up playing b-ball but I can find hundreds of vids of guys getting royally muffed up skateboarding. I dont think the city of going to be liable as long as they have signage that amounts to a release of liability.

Robert Lewis

Sat, Aug 10, 2013 : 2:06 a.m.

How much in lawsuits has the city paid for the baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and other free unsupervised recreation facilities? The statical facts are that skateboarding has a far lower rate of injury requiring medical attention than all those activities. Basketball has twice the rate of injury and the city has far more exposure considering the number of courts in each park.

5c0++ H4d13y

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

About 10,000 years.


Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Though they can't enforce it, a big sign requiring helmets might relieve the liability.