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Posted on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Ann Arbor officials say construction of skatepark on city's west side won't begin for another year

By Ryan J. Stanton


The concept for the proposed Ann Arbor Skatepark. The city will issue an RFP for the actual design.

Courtesy of Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark

Construction of a long-awaited skatepark on Ann Arbor's west side won't begin until next spring, officials working on the project confirmed on Friday.

The nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, which raised much of the money for the project, and parks officials from the city and Washtenaw County released a tentative timeline for the design and construction, saying the project is expected to begin in early spring 2013.

The skatepark group had been hoping to break ground this year, but the pre-construction activities are now expected to take six to eight months.


Trevor Staples

"Like most, if not all of our supporters, we would like to see the skatepark built this year," said Trevor Staples, president of the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark. "However, we also want to take the time to make sure that every base is covered, so that Ann Arbor can have the world-class, destination skatepark that our community desires and deserves."

Given the proposed size and scope, it will take roughly four months to complete the $1 million project once construction begins next spring, according to the new timeline.

Ann Arbor officials said several phases of the project need to be completed before construction begins, including writing and issuing a request for proposals for selecting a firm to help design the skatepark at Veterans Memorial Park. That process has begun and will be complete near the end of this month, according to the timeline released on Friday.

Proposers will have three to four weeks to submit proposals to the RFP committee, which is made up of representatives from the city, the county and the skatepark group. The RFP committee will review the proposals and conduct interviews with the finalists.

Upon consensus among the RFP committee members, a recommendation will be submitted to the city's Park Advisory Commission, followed by City Council approval to award the design contract. Once a firm has been selected, the final design will be developed. After the final design is approved, a bid will be issued for the construction of the skatepark.

Funding for the skatepark comes from donations received by the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant and matching funds from the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.

The Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark is a coalition of parents, skaters, teachers and business and community leaders dedicated to the development of a public skatepark. The mission is to build a free skatepark as a permanent resource for the public.

The skatepark is expected to be designed and built by an experienced skatepark contractor, and include local skaters in the design process.

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.



Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 11:15 a.m.

Goodness there are an awful lot of bigoted negative stereotypes flying around in this discussion. If safety for the individuals is really your main concern, I do hope that you never get in a car. Do have any idea how many people die every single day in automobile accidents? Or how many people are permanently severely injured by automobiles? Best for everyone if we ban car use and shut down all roadways. I do hope that the supporters of this park keep the project moving forward and are able to make the skate park a reality. Not everyone wants to participate in the same sport. Most who enjoy skating are not riff raff and looking for a fight at every turn. Most are respectable people enjoying a challenge. Shame on those of you so willing to put down others and perpetuate the prejudice.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 4:04 a.m.

Since most users are young teens between the ages of 13 years and 17 years, how do you expect these children who live outside Ann Arbor to travel to Veterans Park so that they can use the skateboard park? Most can not drive and buses are inconvenient when available. For those hoping that the skateboard park will improve the local economy the youth who will use the skateboard park have limited finances and are unlikely to visit commercial enterprises in Maple Village and Westgate Shopping center.

Peter Whitley

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Actually, the opposite is true. Teenagers and 'tweeners have the highest proportion of discretionary income than any other age group. Without rent/mortgage, bills, and payments, teenagers can often spend everything they have. The skatepark may not directly improve the local economy, but it will bring teenagers out of their homes, where they're currently spending money online. Wherever there are teenagers, there is commerce. Travel to and from the skatepark by teenagers will be handled the same way that they travel to the movie theater, or to the mall, and so on. Some will drive, some will walk (or skate), some may take public transit, and some may be given rides.


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

I agree with your expectations for injuries and your objection to the use of taxpayer money to develop the skateboard park. I am not convinced that signed liability waivers will completely insulate the city from liability suits.

Peter Whitley

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

What would it take to convince you, Veracity? It seems that you have no shortage of reservations about this facility... a facility, incidentally, that you will not use. As a local custodian of Ann Arbor's indemnity, you must certainly be an expert on liability law and risk management. I won't bore you with the basics—stuff you already know. I'd encourage you to review chapter 324 of the Michigan Recreational Use Statute. Skatepark visitors, just like any park visitors, should not be required to sign a waiver as the risk to the visitor is already accepted by the visitor EXCEPT in cases of gross negligence. For example, you're visiting a park and you slip in the wet grass and fracture your wrist. That's not Parks' responsibility. However, if you sit down on a park bench and it falls apart and you break your wrist, you might have a case if it can be demonstrated that Parks knew about the dangerous condition of the bench and chose to do nothing about it. Same with the skatepark. It's "use at your own risk."


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

Just an FYI for those throwing around statistics...60 mph can only be reached on a skateboard on an extremely steep downhill (70 is the world record). No one in that park will come anywhere near 60 mph. I'm guessing between 10 and 20 is the average skateboard speed on flatland.


Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Wrong on world record speed: Others support your claim to usual skatepark speeds of up to 20 mph which is fast enough to injure or kill depending how you land... and on what you land!

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

please let kids skate,im sure the park will require ins. liability waivers+safety equipment.SKATE KIDS SKATE!!!

Peter Whitley

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

It probably will not require those things. If safety equipment is required, then it is the City's responsibility to enforce compliance. If they do not enforce compliance, and know that non-compliance is rampant, then there may be a case for negligence.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Admitting that I'm not very familiar with the area , a park of this quality ought to draw from more than AA, thus I'm wondering what the accommodations for parking would be.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

more spinoff $ for a2 ya!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

IF it gets built, I give it 2-3 years before some kid(s) end-up with permanent, serious, life threatening/ending injuries, at which point the law suits will fly and the whole thing will be shut down as a menace to public health and safety. Even if , by some miracle, none of the above occurs, there will be drugs and riff-raff for our understaffed, underfunded, public safety professionals to deal with. Taxpayer dollars have no business funding a costly project benefitting only a tiny fraction of the community, while at the same time creating a HUGE potential financial liability for the entire community. Talk about privatized benefits (for a few) and socialized costs (construction, maintenance, & liabilities)! Someone should file suit to prevent this folly from going forward.

Peter Whitley

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Cynic, kids in your community are being hurt today. Your local skateboarders are at risk of being hit by motor vehicles, and recreating in inappropriate places. Currently, those youth are being taught that the only way to pursue the thing they love is to break the rules and accept that they are at odds with the community. Your support for your local youth would be appreciated.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

can the skaters sign a liability waiver?

glenn thompson

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

"so that Ann Arbor can have the world-class, destination skatepark that our community desires and deserves." This means a skatepark with features that have rapid 6 to 8 foot changes in elevation. Features that are dangerous for children and useful only to a few very advanced skaters like Mr. Staples. Let's also be clear on the funding. The vast majority of the estimated $ 1 million cost has been from the Washtenaw County and the State of Michigan, not raised by The friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark as they originally promised. Is this really a project our state and county should be spending money on when cutting so many other services? Finally, Vet's Park is a very poor location. It is in a head water region of the Allen Creek drain. This is where we should be detaininig water and recharging the ground water, not creating more impervious surface. There has been recent flooding in the Seventh Street area near West Park, rather than working to solve this problem we propose to exacerbate it.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Well said. You raise points about funding and location that will be edifying for most people. Unfortunately, a small but ardent group of skateboard devotees will likely propel this project into existence. When that happens I hope that safety will be an important feature and will include a gated fence to control access and trained supervisors to monitor the park's use at all times when it is open for skateboard users. Helmets and other safety gear should be mandatory for entrance into the park. Fighting and risky behavior should result in temporary or permanent exclusion from the park.

Seasoned Cit

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Is part of the delay due to the fact that a percentage of this projects costs will go to the public art fund? Will there be any art at the park.. or shall we just wait for graffiti artists to contribute ?

Peter Whitley

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

One-percent for the arts is a typical capital improvement ratio, but it varies from state-to-state, community-to-community. Graffiti may be an issue within the first few months of the ribbon-cutting. The skatepark will be very popular with local youth, and lots of those will want to leave their mark on it, (so to speak). It will be very important in those early days to remove graffiti right away so that a clear zero-tolerance policy is conveyed. Establishing a sanctioned, recognized stewardship group will also help... as well as on-site programming, like skate classes and demos. The "ownership struggle" at skateparks is very common when they first open.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

The probability of defacement will prevent the city from investing in art at the skate park.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:31 a.m.

The city already has a "BMX dirtbike" park in Bandemer Park...basically huge hills of gravel and dirt that one hits at fullspeed at full tilt downhill. The outcry about possible injuries...let alone actual reports... is absolutely NIL regarding this park, which has been there for years.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

dont say that too loud goofster,the fun police will shut it down.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Though I have not observed dirt biking at Bandemer Park I have watched the videos. The jumps are shallow and act to slow down the riders who gain nothing by peddling while in the air. The dirt is necessarily dug up by the biking and makes a more comfortable landing when one falls than will the concrete at the skate park. The tricks attempted on a bike are not as risky as those attempted with a skate board.

Tony Keene

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.

Some would rather die living, than live in fear of death. ... And who sez the skatepark is just for 13 to 17 year olds?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Although older individuals are now participating in skate boarding young teens remain the largest segment of our population to use skate boards. Of course with high unemployment more adults have time to devote to skateboarding. I hope that no one looks forward to dying while skateboarding.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Well put if that was the meaning; an individidual falling into the age group in your second statment has not experienced enough life to make a critical decision regarding your first statement.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

I hope not. There are many better (and safer) choices for using time.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.

Most skateboarders I knew as a kid and those I observe now are daredevils and are happy to get hurt. They don't wear helmets and throw caution to the wind. How will the City prevent a Lawsuit when somebody inevitably gets a major injury on property the City has permitted this dangerous activity on? I hope there is an adult there to supervise and everybody signs a waiver for their kid. Also, I've seen Portlandia. Is this skatepark going to be full of ne're do wells like that one?

Angry Moderate

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:41 a.m.

If only there were such a thing as insurance that would cover injuries on city-owned skateparks, golf courses, baseball diamonds, ice skating rinks, and canoe liveries.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

"Most skateboarders I knew as a kid and those I observe now are daredevils and are happy to get hurt" Daredevils probably true. Happy to get hurt. I doubt it! Accept the fact they might get hurt? Yes


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

Injuries? Skateboard enthusiasts try to compare the risks with football and other sports (which fails according to what I can find factually). Search YouTube for some videos of serious injuries associated with skateboarding. Many of the injuries occur at skateboard parks. Many skateboarders are "hot dogging" and not wearing protective gear. Good supervision could prevent some of these from happening. Here are some examples:

Angry Moderate

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

Search Youtube for videos of serious injuries associated with cars, shopping carts, and a million other things while you're at it.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:33 a.m.

Part 2 The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons is concerned about potential skateboard injuries and has published a white paper about the sport. Besides stating that no child under six years of age should skateboard it advised that 6 to 10 year old children be supervised by an adult. All skateboarders need to follow strict safety guidelines such as always wearing safety gear including helmets, wrist, elbow and knee pads, and shoes. Proper supervision is important in order to prevent dangerous attempts at tricks, to prevent fights, and to obtain prompt and appropriate treatment for injuries. Supervision should prevent the use and sale of drugs and child abuse and abduction. A gated fence is required in order to enforce hours of use which should prevent use during school hours, bad weather or when supervision can not be provided. Money should be available to pay for supervisors and for maintenance including keeping ramp surfaces safe. The last question is how will City Council handle the liability risks associated with the retained ownership of land being used for a dangerous sport? Has legal counsel assured irrefutably that the City can not be held liable for injuries, or for child abduction that may occur while the park is unsupervised or poorly supervised? Must the City purchase additional liability insurance specifically to cover adverse events occurring at the skateboard park? Will the A2 skateboard park organization be operating the skateboard park and paying for its upkeep and for supervision? Should such an understanding or arrangement be legally formalized in writing? Should skateboard users be required to register and, in so doing, agree to safety and usage rules? Can such agreements, co-signed by parents, absolve the City of legal responsibilities for injuries and other adverse events?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:10 a.m.

@Veracity I know this is scary for you. So I suggest you close your curtains and bury your head under the covers!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

I have been a skateboarder for 26 years. Never in my life have I gone 60mph on a skateboard. The land speed record on a skateboard was 62mph for years until someone beat it by being towed behind a motorcycle. How did you come up with 60mph. Curious.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:47 a.m.

Great points. Keep the kids inside and have them sit on the couch and play video games instead. Another option would be for parents to help make sure that their children make responsible, safe choices with regard to equipment and participation. Such a kill joy post for a great addition to our community.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:33 a.m.

Part 1 Despite previous public discussion important questions remain to be answered before construction of a skateboard park should proceed. The first question is how can participant demand for a skateboard park be anticipated? An undocumented "study" of interested skateboarders in Ann Arbor was done earlier in the last decade and is reported at The report purports that 5% of 13 year old to 17 year old children in Ann Arbor used skateboards, or about 500 individuals. How many of these potential skateboard park users could arrange transportation to the facility in Veterans Park is unknown but most will not live close by and will be unable to drive themselves. Building a million dollar sports facility that is underutilized will be poor use of funds and park space. The second question is how can the city support an inherently dangerous sport that produces frequent and severe injuries, especially head and neck injuries that can leave youngsters disabled for life? Skateboarders can exceed 60 mph speeds while launching themselves from steel and concrete ramps. Most skateboarders are thirteen to eighteen year old children who represent an age group with the riskiest behavior. They will be reckless, crashing into other skateboarders and landing awkwardly on hard, non-resilient surfaces.

Peter Whitley

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

Veracity, I'm not sure what your motives are for distributing this "information." Your facts are way off. First, the AAOS study that I believe you're citing clearly shows that a majority of skateboarding injuries happen to the person with less than a week of experience. This skatepark will be for novice-to-advanced skateboarders. Also, you should take a look at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's report on skateboarding. Injuries per 1000 participants put skateboarding (20) behind basketball (224), baseball (116), and soccer (62). For some reason, (I'd let you speculate), skateboarding is considered the "dangerous" activity while these others are not. Few people bring up liability concerns when hearing about a soccer field proposal. Are those the answers you're looking for? Or were you hoping for something that supported the position that the skatepark was a bad idea? Professional skateboard racers seldom reach 60 miles per hour during competitions. It's a pity you use this "statistic" as it discredits your other claims.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

veracity you said "landing awkwardly on hard, non-resilient surfaces." what non-resilient surface are you talking about???????


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

Angry Moderate: An argument repeated used to justify a skateboard park is that kids will prefer skateboarding at the park to skateboarding on streets and sidewalks. Some will use the park but they will also continue to skateboard in the street and on sidewalks also. Brad; Do not mock the truth. j: The concrete will not be damaged. I wish that I could say the same for those using the skateboard park. Nattiejames: ...and a park should not have some grassy land? How about picnics? How about throwing frizbees or even baseballs or playing with the dog? I am sure that you can think of other uses as well or just sit on the grass and observe what others do. My concerns are justified because much of the funding for construction of the skateboard park is coming from county and other grants which include my tax dollars. I am concerned that skateboard injuries in the park will lead to liability suits against the city which retains ownership of the park. Any settlement of suits will again involve my tax dollars. firstfolio: I am glad you survived your poor judgement as a youth though I doubt that you really enjoyed breaking bones. Unfortunately, some skateboarders die from their injuries and others are crippled for life. Jake C: The frequency of serious injury remains greater for skate boarding than for other sports which is the motivation for the article published by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons that I referenced in Part 2 above. The article is short and easy to understand so I suggest that you read it.

Jake C

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

Take a close look at the proposed Skatepark and you'll see another dangerous activity nearby. There are fields where people play a game which involves throwing a hard, heavy leather ball in speeds upwards of 100 MPH directly at another person, who then uses a heavy wooden stick to hit the ball at other people. Won't someone think of all the children who could be injured in such a dangerous game? Oh wait, people are encouraged to use proper safety equipment in both activities and it's up to the parents to make sure their kids are participating in these activities safely. That sounds okay to me.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

Oh please...skateboarding is nothing compared to many of the crazy things I did as a boy,one involving a homemade zip line,couple 100' in the air with no safety equipment and a tree branch....That's what most boys and some girls do at that age...daredevil stuff...and might suffer the occasional broken bone to show for it,as I did...that branch,after dozens of uses by a group of 12-14 year olds finally broke.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

I don't have a pony in this race since I am not a skateboard enthusiast, but did Veracity really argue that this is a poor use of park space? That part of Vet's Park is an absolutely unused space between an existing ball field and an existing copse of trees. All sport contains risk. Some sports are riskier than others. I don't see ski resorts going out of business or wrapping youthful skiers in bubble wrap before sending them down the hill, so maybe it would be good policy to allow people to wallow in a bit of freedom of choice in how they spend their leisure time and energy. If Ann Arbor parks can provide tennis courts for me and the fairly small percentage of tennis enthusiasts who live in the city, we can certainly provide space for skateboard enthusiasts to practice tricks in an area cordoned off from pedestrians, sidewalks, streets and non-sport-designated plazas and parking lots. Veracity: breathe slowly through the nose, drink some chamomile tea, think about soft kittens or warm puppies, steer clear of YouTube for source material if you want to be taken seriously, and maybe, just maybe, let people make their own choices. I don't think anyone is planning to duct tape your feet to a skateboard and send you over the lip of a half-pipe, so chill, my brother or sister...


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

"non-resilient surfaces." These skateboarders are going to hurt themselves on non-durable surfaces??? I guess I hope they don't break the concrete when why fall


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

60MPH? And you call yourself "veracity"?? Skateboarders will be landing on hard surfaces? I'm sure nobody ever thought of that.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

Gee, I wonder why so few kids like to skateboard, in a city that doesn't have any good places for people to skateboard. If only we had a nice skate park, maybe more people would get interested in the sport.

Neal Elyakin

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

Bravo, Trevor. Speaking for those who have silently cheered you on, I am thrilled that this addition to our city is on its way to becoming a reality. Bravo, bravo.