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Posted on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor Skatepark construction to start in spring with design now approved

By Ryan J. Stanton


The Ann Arbor City Council voted 10-0 to approve this design Monday night.

City of Ann Arbor

This story has been updated with comments from Trevor Staples and Colin Smith correcting a previously stated estimate that annual skatepark maintenance costs would be $10,000. They say it will be closer to $5,000 after talking with other communities with similar skateparks.

The Ann Arbor City Council approved the design for the city's newest recreational amenity Monday night: a new state-of-the-art skatepark at Veterans Memorial Park.

Construction on the 30,000-square-foot concrete park is now planned to start in the spring with completion by this fall, and council members said that's welcome news.

The vote was 10-0 with Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, absent.

"This has been a long time coming," said Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward. "This has been quite a community effort. It has been one effort that I think we can say truly involved kids.

"They came to the meetings, they came and expressed their desires," he said, "and for that I think we should be very grateful that our youth have stepped up."

The city and the county have been working closely with the nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark and California-based skatepark designer Wally Hollyday on the design.

The drawing included in the council packet shows the proposed skatepark will include a wide range of elements, including a snake run, kidney pool, clover pool, flow bowl, small bowl, street course, reservoir ditch, volcano, slappy curbs, quarter pipes and concrete sculptures. There also are landscaped stormwater retention areas and rain gardens integrated throughout.

"It's very nice to see this come forward. I'm very happy," said Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward.

Higgins asked the city's staff if there's adequate parking to accommodate a large skateboarding tournament, while at the same time having a baseball or softball tournament. Community Services Administrator Sumedh Bahl said he couldn't answer that question off hand.

The Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark has raised more than $100,000 from private donors, plus a $300,000 grant from the state's Natural Resources Trust Fund and $400,000 from the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission to pay for the skatepark.

Under an agreement with the city, the nonprofit group also is responsible for an endowment fund that will contribute toward maintenance costs and future capital repairs.

Colin Smith, the city's parks manager, and Trevor Staples, president of Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, both said other communities with similar skateparks have reported having averaged about $5,000 in annual maintenance costs. They expect the endowment should be near $100,000 at the time of opening and fund raising will continue with events expected to help replenish that amount.

While the skatepark will become city property, city officials say it will be managed by the city in partnership with the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, and there are opportunities for volunteer assistance. In the coming months, city staff and the skatepark group plan to develop an operations and maintenance agreement that will detail roles and responsibilities.

It's the intent of both parties that the skatepark will not have assigned staffing or monitoring and visitors will use the facility at their own risk. City officials say that's not uncommon for municipal skateparks across the country, nor for other recreational amenities offered by the parks system, including a dirt bike course at Bandemer Park that is unsupervised.

There will not be a charge to use the skatepark.

The city has liability insurance that covers all city property and that will include the skatepark. City officials say the additional cost of insuring the skatepark, if any, will not be material.

Council Member Chuck Warpehoski, D-5th Ward, suggested he's going to welcome seeing skateboarders take to Veterans Memorial Park.

"I live very near this park. It's a space that I don't see well-used often," he said. "It's pretty much empty most of the time."


City of Ann Arbor

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, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

There is plenty of parking, people can always park in the Aldi or Plum Market lots in a pinch, and cross at the crosswalks, please. I think this is a great long term addition to the regional parks mix at the right price, AND a boon to area orthopedists.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

This is a good spot at Vets. Near the roads, and this usage can handle some noise. And it's a good chunk of space that isn't developed at all. My first concern is the liability insurance. I hope the city is right that this will not add significant costs. Still too many late-night-commercial lawyers out there just waiting for the first kid to have a bad fall while not wearing a helmet. My second concern is with bullying. If unsupervised, will this site quickly get taken over by the punks? If this is to work, you need a site that kids of all ages can enjoy. My third concern is with the ball field next to it. That's the only baseball field at Vets, and you have some intermediate level play there. Foul balls from right-handed batters will come into the skating area on a fairly regular basis. A net extending the backstop may be necessary.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:07 p.m.

This is a great idea!!! Something OUTSIDE for kids to occupy their time with!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

Should take a couple years for it to run its course and be a taxpayer burden and eyesore. Even though a plan appears to be in place to minimize taxpayer cost private funds will likely fall short over time. Sure hope the city has thought about what the cost to restore the site back to parkland. I hope I am proven wrong but cannot see this as a long term wise investment.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

Reality would suggest otherwise. Kids have been using skate parks for DECADES. Every skate park I see always has kids playing. Always. Can you cite any examples of skate parks that did not get used? You say this one will only get a "couple years" of use, so it should be easy for you to provide us with countless examples to support your claim.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

Happy that it got the funding. Want to see it built before I'm in a wheel chair


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Oh my...yesterday I commented on this story 'RAD Dude'...which I actually meant. Looks in in looks cool. Did I miss something in the posting guidelines?


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

Another waste in the name of "kids". Just like the 3rd High School we didn't need. I'm so sick and tired of city council's mentality of pandering to parents who believe nothing-is-too-good-for-my-little-boy (or girl)!! Even if it means wasting tax payers money and in this case squandering public space!!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Just because you don't like it doesn't mean its a waste. Just because 100% of the population won't use it, doesn't mean its a waste. This was a grass roots effort with wide community support by involved citizens who worked hard to add an amenity to our town. The city's leadership responded to that effort. What have you done to make AA a better place?


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

actually, Ann Arbor City tax payer money was not used. All the money came from either private donations or grants from other governmental units (although technically tax money, I don't have an issue with City council spending someone else's tax dollars)

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

You forgot to tell the kids to get off your lawn. And with a skatepark available, they just might.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Now why can't the Library Green Conservancy get the same government enthusiasm for putting their cooler park on the downtown library lot? What, no skateboard company or Natural Resources Trust Fund sponsorship? What you say? The state NRTF funds a skatepark? Alright then,how about a "Foster Grant" or grant from the makers of Hawaiin Tropic sun screen for a sunshine bathed work of courtyard sitting art?.That'll get City Council excited for sure.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Putting a skate park in an under-utilized corner of an already existing park is a lot different then turning a valuable downtown development property in to parkland. I support the downtown park, but it's whiny comments like these trying to make false equivalencies that really don't help the cause.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Will the city be taking their "1% skim for art" on this?

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Yeah, it passed (no surprise). Let's just get it done, okay? Build it.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Way to go, Trevor! This is going to be awesome. It's been a long, long time in the making and the city needs it. Good luck, to all involved and using it!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

LOVE how city council is patting themselves on the back for this one...


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

I don't skateboard but that doesn't mean I'll shake my fist in the air against this project. Skateboardes need a place to skateboard too. I'd rather see them have a place to go other then the city streets. Good for them on this project, I hope to see it succeed.

Sandra Samons

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

I think it might be fun to just watch the skateboarders. Will there be seating for spectators?


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.

If they build it will they come?