Skaters mobilize to maintain local skate park

By Alanna Dvorak
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

On Nov. 7, 2009, Durham Parks and Recreation unveiled a new skate park in the city as a part of Durham Central Park. Located at 505 Rigsbee Ave., Durham Skate Park boasts 10,000 square feet of obstacles, including rails, stairs, a quarter pipe and an 8-foot bowl. The Toy Machine team christened the park by skating a demo.

Kevin Johnson, 16, of Durham does a frontside tailslide on one of the park features. (Staff photo by Alanna Dvorak)

Nearly one year later, the obstacles are still there, and the park is full of a diverse array of skaters. But now trash litters portions of the park and eroded dirt from the surrounding area outside the park scuffs the cement.

Unwilling to let the park degenerate, local skaters are mobilizing to maintain their facility.

Nikolas Spaulding, owner of Ujamaa Boardhouse and a skater of 25 years, is helping lead the coalition.

“If I go down there [to the park], I clean up,” said Spaulding. “And the kids will stop skating and help clean up if they see us [older skaters] doing it.”

Two weeks ago, Spaulding and several other older skaters, ranging in ages from 22 – 45, met to create a committee to help take responsibility for the park.

According to Spaulding, the group plans on keeping the park litter-free, teaching park etiquette and acting as role models for the youth skaters.

The youth have thus far been very receptive.

“I don’t expect the city to clean the park for us,” said Hezy Campbell, a 16-year-old skater from Durham. “This is our home. We need to do something as a community of skaters.”

Sixteen-year-old Brandon Strethern of Durham agrees. “I’d come out and put labor into the park if have to.”

Hezy says that the skate community has already banded against theft and fighting in the confines of the park and now is working to clean up the park.

Randy "Snake" Maples, 15, of Durham cruises in the bowl, a skate feature much like an empty swimming pool.

Spaulding says the one of the biggest sources of litter come from land erosion. After a rain, the dirt from outside the skate park gets run into the park after rain, where it dries and clumps. The committee is currently trying to get approval to lay bricks over the dirt around the park. Spaulding is also encouraging the city to build a water fountain on the premise.

In spite of the issues regarding the park, both Spaulding and the youth skaters agree the skate park has been overwhelmingly positive for their community.

“This is the only thing some of us really enjoy doing,” said Strethern.

Though Ujamaa Boardhouse is currently in the midst of a move, Spaulding anticipates it will reopen at its new location in mid-November. Spaulding prides himself on opening the shop to skaters to just hang out at and plans on maintaining that by once again opening his doors to local skaters. He remarks though, that Durham is the most skate-friendly town he’s lived in.

The community is hoping to expand the success of Central Durham Skate park. Spaulding said the city is looking at making smaller parks throughout the city over other unused facilities. Like the main park, they will also be free. The city is also hoping to bring more professional skate teams to demos and is planning on hosting a contest for the local skaters in December.

Spaulding anticipates continued good response. “The skate park is always flooded with kids of different races, shapes, and sizes, full of camaraderie,” said Spaulding. “The things they could be into – and instead they’re skating. They breathe skating.”

One thought on “Skaters mobilize to maintain local skate park

  1. It says under the caption of the first picture that that is Kevin Johnson doing a frontside noseslide. That is actually a backside noseslide. It’s great to hear of people doing their part to keep their place clean.

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