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Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3 p.m.

DDA to vote on $50,000 grant for Ann Arbor Skatepark next Wednesday

By Ryan J. Stanton

Thumbnail image for A2Skatepark.png

This image shows the design for the proposed Ann Arbor Skatepark.

The Ann Arbor Skatepark initiative could get a $50,000 boost from the Downtown Development Authority under a proposal by DDA board member Newcombe Clark.

After initially discussing the idea during a committee meeting on Wednesday, Clark released more details today about his plan to have the DDA issue a challenge grant.

Area skateboarding enthusiasts have been working for years on raising money to develop a skate park on a 30,000-square-foot section of Veterans Memorial Park.

According to Clark's resolution to be voted on by the DDA's governing board next Wednesday, the $50,000 grant from the DDA must be spent within a quarter-mile radius of downtown.

That means the money couldn't be spent at Veterans Park, but it could help fund complementary skating facilities near the downtown — for example, at West Park — and leverage other matching funds for a skate park at Veterans Park, Clark explained.


Newcombe Clark

Clark, who has expressed a preference to see skateboarding facilities at West Park, said that's not an effort to shift the skate park committee's focus to downtown. He said it's more an effort to keep the grant award in line with the DDA's mission of supporting downtown, while still supporting the skate park.

"I think it's clear in the resolution that we would like some facilities in the downtown or in radial proximity to the downtown," Clark said. "This should not be viewed as contrary to the work they've done or the support that they've gotten. This should be viewed as complementary."

The Friends of Ann Arbor Skatepark, led by Trevor Staples, has been working for years on its vision to build a free, public, concrete skate park at Veterans Park, located on the city's west side.

Staples said the plan has not changed to build at Veterans Park, though he has talked with City Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, about developing another place for skateboarders in the downtown area. He said a location hasn't been decided.

Staples said the fundraising goal for the skate park project is $1 million — $900,000 to design and build the skate park and another $100,000 to establish an endowment for park maintenance and improvements. He said he appreciated Clark's attempts to help raise money.

"We're stoked that Newcombe is enthusiastic about the skate park and that's great," he said. "If it fits within the goals of the DDA, which is downtown development, then that would be great."

Washtenaw County's Parks and Recreation Commission has pledged up to $400,000 in matching funds to the skate park initiative. So far, the skate park committee has raised $80,000, which puts the total at $160,000 with matching money from the county.

Staples said bigger donations are being sought now.

Clark is hoping a $50,000 matching grant from the DDA — with another $50,000 in public or private support — will help the skate park committee unlock another $100,000 from the county.

Clark notes that most members of City Council have provided written statements in support of the future skate park, stating that it would serve community members and may minimize problems with improper use of public ways and other facilities. He said providing skaters with a safe, attractive place to practice their sport may lessen the amount of damage to downtown planters, railings and other public and private facilities.

Clark is proposing that the $50,000 be reallocated from money the DDA pledged three years ago for the Howell-to-Ann Arbor commuter rail project. The DDA agreed to give $250,000 a year for three years, and the final year of funding remains unspent.

"I'm not asking for a lot of money," Clark said, adding that he thinks the $50,000 will be a much-needed boost for the skate park. "Having a dedicated place for people to skate makes the downtown safer, cleaner and it's less hard on the infrastructure. We have the money to give."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Sun, Aug 29, 2010 : 12:20 a.m.

Lokalisierung: Please read my lengthy but fact-filled comment above to understand all of the ramifications around the building of a skateboard park. With the DDA really not having the funding to provide $50,000 I do not understand why it is even being considered. Other issues include too few skateboard users to warrant an expensive skateboard park, safety questions and liability.

scooter dog

Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

WE, DO NOT have the money to fix the bridge,If WE did WE would be fixing it


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 5:36 p.m.

Well the Stadium bridge isn't downtown, nor does it really lead to downtown. Plus, as stated roughly 2 million times, they already have the monies to fix the bridge. I understadn this well "take money away from other road issues," but hey, nothing much has been done on the roads in years. Also, there was already a skateboard destination at Veteran's park long ago. I don't know why now it would be inappropriate to put something there. It's just as appropriate as a Pool, Ice skating, sledding etc....etc. But I do agree West Park would be a better location.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 4:41 p.m.

Bad idea in a time of economic distress. Like @Lets Get Real noted, the bridge needs the $. I was thinking downtown because its closer to the hospital trauma centers. Also Veteran's Park is dedicated to veterans and I don't this is appropriate there. Kind of silly to pump tax dollars into something like this when there is more need elsewhere.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

I lived near a skate park in Lansing and it was always had a few kids, 5-12 in it. I was a nice size area, but nothing as fancy and large as this park. Most skate parks I've seen, empty or poplar are much smaller. This project seems a little over the top. I would support a skate park, but with a more reasonable plans/budget. If it turns out to be a huge success you can always expand in the future. I love Vets park and live near by but I'd rather see the skate park at West park. It's more centrally located.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 11:15 a.m.

"Cadillac and Holland have skate parks that are rarely ever used." Small towns.

scooter dog

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:59 a.m.

Wow, What a farce, Infrastructure is falling apart and they want to build a skate park, What a frigging joke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

If it is the one I am familiar with, the Muskegon 'skate park' is just a few ramps and a quarter-pipe in a tennis-court-size area. It is nothing like the picture above. I wouldn't even call it a skate park. More like part of a playground. Kids play on the structures, some do a little trick riding on their bikes or scooters. I've never seen it busy. I think putting the proposed skate park at West Park would ruin the beauty and tranquility of the place.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 6:50 a.m.

I agree with veracity - who is gonna pay the liability insurance for a skate park in AA? I don't want my tax dollars going toward paying high insurance so a few kids can play a dangerous sport. If parents want their kids to get hurt doing skateboarding stunts, let THEM cough up the money for a skatepark and the insurance on it! I don't care where it might be built. And why is the DDA involved with something NOT downtown!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 6:27 a.m.

Here's an idea, spend the funds in the actual Downtown. I'm sure there are plenty of safety issues (likely poorly designed sidewalks) in need of repair.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:26 p.m.

Close to downtown? Hmmm. Should the DDA be thinking about contributing to the repair of the Stadium Blvd bridge over State Street? No, instead of a safe bridge on a major thoroughfare, we are going to allocate funds to a skatepark? Let's get real about what it is that prioritizes need and wish. There are many things I WANT or WISH FOR, but allocate my limited resources to those expenditures that have the most pressing need.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:56 p.m.

Silly season has begun. Seems a little earlier than usual.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:36 p.m.

This is a ridiculous idea from Newcomb and is such political pandering. Newcomb must be trying to pick up some skate park votes. It is absurd to talk about moving the proposed skate park from Vets Park because time and money has already gone into planning the current one. He really wants to waste all the money that has been spent? Also, the project has not even come close to reaching the maximum matching potential from the Washtenaw county pledge. It is silly to create another competing matching fund when the first one has not reached its potential. This $50, 000 grant from the DDA involves matching funds which would pull from the same donor pool that is needed to match the Washtenaw county donation. With having to redo all the plans and designs, the net increase by using the $50,000 grant from the DDA hardly seems worth it. If what he wants is to build a second skate park, then he should wait until the first one is built to see how much it is used. Something to keep in mind is this: if the project has trouble raising all the monies to match the Washtenaw county donation and the initial skate park at Vets Park cannot be completed as designed, any matching funds that the DDA grant raises will have hurt the project as a whole because the DDA funds cannot be used at Vets Park. Those matching funds will be wasted. The DDA should not try to set up a matching fund while the initial matching fund is still short of funds.

Marvin Face

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:09 p.m.

Cadillac and Holland have skate parks that are rarely ever used.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:55 p.m.

The library Lot would be the best location for the skatepark


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:53 p.m.

The library lot would be by far the hottest spot for a skatepark.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:43 p.m.

put it way out in the middle of nowhere, should keep the insurance liability down a bit and the skate or die cool dudes out of the city


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

I agree with Peter Eckstein that providing money for a skateboard park is not within the mission definition of the DDA. Furthermore, I do not kmow where the DDA will find the funds to provide $50,000. The DDA had a $1.4 million dollar deficit at the end of last year. In addition to its usual budget, the DDA is adding a $407,000 grant to Zingerman's. Also, the DDA must soon find another $800.000 a year to service a new $9 million dollar bond issue that will build an underground parking facility for the Ann Arbor City Apartments. The 244 parking spaces are unlikely to generate enough revenue to cover the expenses. It is difficult to justify spending $1 million for a dedicated skateboard park that will be used only by a few. In 2005 a study determined that about 5% of children 13 to 18 years old used skateboards. That percentage translates into 250 to 5oo youths. Add another 500 adults who may skateboard and the park will service less than 1% of Ann Arbor's population. Also, believing that skateboarding will be confined to a skateboard park is unrealistic. The skateboard will continue to be a mode of transportation about town. Also, for many skateboarders, the park may not be comvenient when an enthusiast wants to use his skateboard. Finally, skateboarding is a dangerous activity that produces many injuries. Many skateboarder do not wear safety helmets or pads. A concrete and steel skateboard park with ramps that launch kids into the air will never achieve a Consumers Report safety achievement award. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons is so concerned that it published guidelines which should be followed by those sponsoring and maintaining the skateboard park (if built): Whoever owns and operates the skateboard park should be concerned about liability. Can liability insurance coverage be purchased for a skateboard park? For safety sake the park should be fenced and have a lockable gate. Hours of use should be restricted especially during school days and activities monitored by a trained supervisor. In this regard, who will pay for the supervision and also for the maintenance? A park for skateboarding may be attractive to the few who participate but hardly justifies the cost or the risks. DDA should be able to find better use for $50,000 or consider not spending what it really does not have.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:16 p.m.

Building it at Vets is a bad idea. There used to be a half-pipe at Vets but hardly anyone skated it. Why? It was on the far side of town for most of the skaters, who came from the north side and Pittsfield twp. By the time we got cars, we drove to better spots outside of the city. Downtown is close to every bus line. It is close for every parent. It's a great use of funds, trust me. I really wish I had a place like that when I skated.

Steve Hendel

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:43 p.m.

Incredible! The DDA must feel like our tax money (and make no mistake, businesses in the DDA area pay the same rate as you and I) is burning a hole in their pocket. $500,000 for the north-south Howell-Ann Arbor train connector (not even supported by Livingston County )? How many million$ over the years for the new City Hall addition? Not to mention the million$ in parking funds siphoned off every year by the City for general purposes. What a cookie jar!!!

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 5:26 p.m.

I think this is a cool idea. Muskegon has one and it's very nice and constantly in use (weather permitting). With all the skaters in A2, I'm sure this park will be popular. And, it'll keep them from using railings around businesses/campus/etc. Good idea all around.

David Briegel

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 4:24 p.m.

Far Out Man!! I grew up near there. Dolph Park is cool. Wagner and Liberty would be less than accessible. Although, when I was a kid I ran all over town from Slauson and then A2 High to home. We had to make our own fun and entertainment.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

Wagnre and Liberty is very far out.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

Why not the corner of Wagner and W. Liberty? There's wide open space there and it can easily be reached by foot, bicycle, or bus.

Peter Eckstein

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:05 p.m.

Whether in West Park or in Veterans Park, this project has NOTHING to do with the mission of a downtown development authority. I suggest that, if the DDA has so much money (and it does) it should return it to the schools and to the city and let their elected leaderships decide what is the highest priority use for these tax dollars.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

So to the posters atop me, what is wrong with the idea of moving it to West Park? Are the deminsions just too big to fit there or something?


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:45 p.m.

Hmmm....I feel like West Park would be a better location. Veteren's seems to far away from the heart of the city to me. It's almost like "Here, go stick them crazy kids away from the town." Then again I don't live near Veteren's so maybe that's the only reason it seems out of the way to me. I'm just thinking when I was a kid I would rather be closer to town. Thing1 is bringing up good points if the plans are already done for Vetern's, but 50K extra cash can make things change.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

Keep your money and bury it in the underground lot! Sounds like a proposal designed to make it look like they art doing something worthwhile. Nothing will come of this. If you are serious put the money in the Vets park project. Otherwise get on with something real!


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:22 p.m.

Why stipulate that it be so close to downtown if it's not meant to undo work already done? Seems more about furthering the quest to make downtown a theme park instead of creating a true place for people to skate. There's no way West Park could accomodate skate park and continue to draw crowds for enjoying music in the park. AND aren't there already completed plans for both parks and projects? But then again it is called the Downtown Development Authority not the Ann Arbor Development Authority.