Charles River Skatepark Plans Announced

Conservancy Skatepark Plans ApplaudedAt Boston City Hall Event On April 13th

Boston, MA-April 20, 2004 – With an appreciative crowd of almost one hundred skateboarders and extreme sports enthusiasts in the galleries, nationally recognized skatepark designer Zack Wormhoudt unfurled a series of plans for the new Charles River Skatepark at an evening meeting hosted by Boston City Councilor Mike Ross held in Council chambers at Boston City Hall on Tuesday, April 13th. The culmination of a long-term planning process participated in by hundreds of “boarders,” interested parents and supporters from throughout Greater Boston, the architectural renderings and site drawings shown by Wormhoudt represent a combination of the collective vision of the local boarding community and the inspired thinking of America’s leading skatepark designer.

Using computer-generated, “wire form” drawings, Wormhoudt synthesized a design derived from three lengthy planning sessions held in the fall and early winter of 2003 at the Boston Public Library. While the one-acre skatepark itself will be located under the ramps of the Zakim-Bunker Hill Bridge in East Cambridge, it will be immediately accessible to borders, in-line skaters and trick bike riders from Boston via paths and bridges across the Charles River. The new skatepark, which is budgeted at over a million dollars, is being designed and built through a public-private partnership led by the Charles River Conservancy, a not-for-profit citizen advocacy group dedicated to renewing and enhancing the Charles River Parklands, within which the new skatepark will be built as part of the NorthPoint area, presently under construction.

Wormhoudt’s elevation drawings and site plans show a large, dramatically conceived skatepark, over 40,000 square feet in size, featuring numerous half pipes, ramps and staircases many designed in explicit imitation of the urban features in public spaces of Boston and Cambridge where skating is illegal. . The Wormhoudt-designed Extreme Skatepark in Louisville, Kentucky has become a magnet for skateboarders, led to a dramatic drop in illegal boarding and youth crime and become a busy tourist destination, as well.

While not as well known as its cousin, snowboarding, skateboarding and related extreme sports came close to receiving recognition as an Olympic sport, this year. With over 1500 skateparks already constructed in the US, alone, extreme sports are growing a furious pace, with an estimated one in five local youth and young adults participating.

“The Charles River Skatepark is a combination of two primary skating terrain themes,” said Zack Wormhoudt, whose Santa Cruz, California-based Wormhoudt, Inc. designs more skateparks than any other in the US. “There are transitions–terrain that mimics empty swimming pools and tends to be more curvilinear in form and shape–and street skating with the curbs, ledges, ramps, stairs, handrails favored by urban boarders.”

The new facility will be built from specially prepared and finished concrete, which will be polished to a highly uniform finish. An enormous fullpipe ? or ?wave? will challenge even the most advanced boarders and skaters, while spectators will be able to view the action throughout the park?s numerous action areas from the periphery.

Said City Councilor Mike Ross of the Back Bay, host of the evening’s event: “I’m really excited about the Charles River Skatepark, the idea for which I’ve been a supporter since first hearing about it over a year ago from the Charles River Conservancy. This is a great way for kids to enjoy what is rapidly becoming a major sport while getting boarders off the streets and out of public areas where boarding is dangerous and illegal.”

The new park adds a significant amenity to the NorthPoint area in the Charles River Parklands and enhances the landscape of the river. I liked the design a lot and the descriptive video was terrrific, but the best thing was seeing so many kids involved in the planning; that’s rare and it’s very special.”

For a direct quote from Councilor Ross, email his assistant Lisa Forti (lisaforti@cityofboston.gov) or call.617 635 4225.

Also in attendance at the event, which began at 6:00 PM, was Superintendent Bobby Johnson of the Boston Police Department. Johnson has overall responsibility for public safety in downtown Boston, the Back Bay and Beacon Hill during evening hours. He commented enthusiastically on the skatepark plan during the City Hall event.

For a direct quote from the Superintendent, contact Boston Police Department public affairs director Maryellen Burns at 617-343-4520.

For the 900-plus members of the Charles River Conservancy and its president, Renata von Tscharner, the event was a triumph. The skatepark is the first significant recreational facility to be constructed in the Charles River Parklands in decades. It will be located not far from the site of America?s first outdoor gymnasium, designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and built in the 1890s at Charlesbank near the site of the present-day Massachusetts General Hospital.

“The City Hall meeting was a milestone in a four year effort which had its beginnings in student discussion in a landscape course I taught at the Radcliffe Seminars some years back,” said von Tscharner, who worked as an urban planner before founding the Charles River Conservancy in 2000. “Now, as part of mitigation efforts for the Big Dig, we are fortunate to have the support of all the public agencies involved in the creation of the New Basin Parklands including the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.”

Early funding for project development and youth involvement came from the Tony Hawk Foundation and the Boston Foundation. Numerous public officials and private individuals have already shown their support for the Charles River Skatepark, including Cambridge Mayor Michael Sullivan, Turnpike Authority Chairman Mathew Amorello and former Lieutenant Governor Thomas O?Neill III. III, State Representative and City Councilor Timothy Toomey, and State Senator Jarrett Barrios.

Continuing financial support for the project, scheduled for completion in 2006, is vital and is no better exemplified than in the generosity of the CambridgeSide Galleria, a large, multi-vendor shopping facility located in East Cambridge not far from the skatepark site.

Says Galleria manager Issie Shait: ?We think this is a great project and one that needs to get done. Kids love to skateboard, but they have very few places to go. We?re glad to be involved because this gives us a chance to give back to the community we serve in a very immediate, fun way.”

For a direct quote from Shait, contact Galleria public affairs counsel Brianne Barrett at 617-621-8668.

With planning for the new Charles River Skatepark well along, the Charles River Conservancy is turning its attention to fundraising. Naming rights to the skatepark are still available. For more information on donation options and information on skatepark plans, including drawings and site pictures, point your browser at www.charlesriverconservancy.org, then click on “Skatepark.”

Call Noah Stockman at the Charles River Conservancy for up-to-the-minute news on skatepark progress at 617-641-9131.