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Posted on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

Ann Arbor skate park update: 'We're going to do what we can to get this done as fast as we can'

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

Supporters of the Ann Arbor Skatepark initiative say they're hoping to break ground on the long-awaited project in September.

Scott Rosencrans, project liaison for the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, appeared before the Ann Arbor City Council Monday night and offered that update.

With a significant portion of the funding for the project now lined up, Rosencrans said the next step is to issue a request for proposals.

"The next step in the process is to convene an RFP committee that will be responsible for selecting a firm for the design and construction of the amenity," he said. "Our organization will be represented by Trevor Staples, Gregg Iddings and Chris Cassell, all of whom are skateboarders and two of whom are parents of skateboarders."

The RFP process will be facilitated by Colin Smith, the city's parks and recreation manager. The committee also will include one member of the city's Park Advisory Commission and Jeff Dehring of the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.


Scott Rosencrans

"We're excited to be a part of this project to serve an underserved sector of the recreation community," Dehring said.

The Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark announced last month it had received a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for the construction of a permanent skate park amenity at Veterans Memorial Park on the city's west side.

The $300,000 state grant, combined with more than $100,000 in donations raised from private contributors, gives the group all the matching funds it needs to unlock a $400,000 challenge grant from the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.

That leaves the skate park group with more than $800,000, enough to get going on the project.

"Fundraising will continue in the hopes that we can reach the original goal of $1 million," Rosencrans said. "We are cultivating relationships with potential donors, our skatepark merchandise will continue to be available, and we will be moving aggressively with the brick campaign."

Rosencrans told council members it will be his last time speaking before council, as Staples is assuming the role of project liaison going forward.

Mayor John Hieftje offered his thanks to Rosencrans and others behind the movement. He asked when the skate park might be open to users.

Rosencrans said it's still early in the process, but if the project breaks ground in September, it could be open by this time next year.

"Sometimes these projects can take up to four months to construct," he said. "Winter comes into play. With a winter like this year, you could be skateboarding in January."

Sumedh Bahl, the city's community services administrator, said the timeline depends on how long it takes for the state to obligate the grant funds.

"We cannot sign any contracts or do any work until we get that contract signed with the DNR, so it's all dependent on them," he said, adding construction might not happen until spring 2013 if there are any significant delays in the process.

"The next step is now to get the RFP out for getting it designed and built," he said. "We're going to do what we can to get this done as fast as we can."

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.


James Maddison

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Great job Friends of Ann Arbor Skatepark. I am the President of the Friends of the Roc City Skatepark in Rochester, New York. Your project is ahead of ours, so we will be looking to you for some direction! Our web page is <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. The comments to this story are very typical in communities where this is a new idea, albeit they are not grounded in reality at all. Public skateparks have been around in the United States for about four decades, and there has never once been a successful law suit against a public or private skatepark. In addition, the risk and liability simply isn't in line with the perception of people who chose not to educate themselves. Paricipant injury rates in progression-oriented sports is far less than football, ice hockey, basketball, and baseball among others. These findings are triangulated among many different methodologies across many different studies. The cost of maintenance of a hard-surface, non-modular skatepark is minimal (roughly $1,000 per year for every 10,000 square feet). Childhood obesity is a catastrophic health epidemic, and progression-oriented sports are a very healthy activity; about the same as running at a 12-minute per mile pace. And, kids do it for hours and hours. But, it isn't only children. The demographics are shifting, and the age cohort is growing much older. The generation that grew up skateboarding now have children, purchasing power, and are willing to travel to desitination skateparks. The estimate of 500 or fewer children isn't even a close estimate. But, hypothically if it were correct, the last time I check a football team carries about 40 kids and a baseball team carries about 15 and those sports have short seasons. Niagara's of public money have flowed into those sports.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

I've been skateboarding for over a decade and most injuries I see at parks are from the lack of education of how skate parks work. (people not being aware of others, skating outside of their abilities) all of this nonsense about the city being sued for millions... when you choose to participate you accept the risk of injury. It's no different than catching a line drive with you teeth while using a local ball field. I was recently injured @ a local city owned ice rink because of poor ice conditions. I'm not running out to get a lawyer because by stepping on the ice to play hockey I understand that there are risks involved.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:04 a.m.

mrmoose: Some of the head and neck injuries from skateboarding will result in dependent care for decades at a cost of several million dollars per incident. Of course families of injured will sue the City and obtain large dollar settlements. However, the City Council members who approve the park construction will likely escape personal culpability. Instead, you and I as taxpayers will bear the burden of the penalties.

James Maddison

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

There has never once been a successful law suit against a public or private skatepark in the over four decades that they have been around in the United States.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

Every time I read about this stake park, I get upset. This is the same area we wanted to build a Vietnam Veterans Memorial 20 years ago without the aid of tax payer money. Ann Arbor said they did not need anything in that park because the park itself was a memorial to veterans. I guess if you kiss some politicians rear end you can get want you want. Ann Arbor is the most unfriendly town to veterans in this country. When someone gets hurt there I hope they sue the H*** out of Ann Arbor. In 20 years I have not spend in dime in Ann Arbor, and I never will.

James Maddison

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

There has never once been a successful law suit against a skatepark.

Steve Hendel

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

What a waste of taxpayer's money, especially while Rutherford Pool in Ypsilanti-which has served a diverse group of people, and many more of them than will ever use the skatepark--lies deteriorating for want of much less than $1,000,000.


Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Ann Arbor residents should have concerns regarding the building of a skateboard park. First, the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark is a small but ardent group of enthusiasts. However, the number of youth who will actual wish to use a skateboard park is uncertain but can be estimated at 500 or less. And most of those who skateboard are between 10 and 18 years of age, without car transportation to a park that will be otherwise too distant to use regularly. Certainly spending $1 million to construct a skateboard park is not warranted if the facility is sparsely used. More worrisome is the probability of serious injuries which will be facilitated by the skateboard park's design. Concrete and steel are the main components to be used in building the skateboard park. These materials are not resilient and will increase risks of serious head and neck injuries as well as fractures. Several raised concrete dividers pictured in the skateboard park's schematics will encourage skaters to attempt jumping over them and gliding along the top surfaces which increase risks of injuries. The ramps will direct skateboarders at each other resulting in high speed collisions which will be harmful. The City is retaining ownership of the property upon which the skateboard park is to be built. Since the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark is not incorporated so it can accept liability responsibilities for running the facility, the City will be held liable for culpable injuries incurred by park users. Liability insurance covering skateboard park usage can be purchased though I do not know the cost. Even with liability insurance the City risks financial loss should a sizable injury judgement may require coverage from the general fund. If not already incorporated as a non-profit organization, the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark should incorporate, accept financial and legal responsibility for maintaining and operating the skateboard park safely and should purchase liability insurance.

James Maddison

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

There is not one single point of this post is accurate or true. See my post for the reality you are choosing not to acknowledge.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 2:12 a.m.

I can't wait to go watch my kid and perhaps even get back on a board. Way to go gang!

Ben Connor Barrie

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

That design looks pretty cool.