HUDSON — Tony Hawk would’ve been proud.
More than 20 skateboarders from around the region recently told the city’s park board to simplify the designs and effectively use the space for the revamped and expanded skate park planned at Veterans Way Park. The city is planning to make about $250,000 in renovations to its 15-year-old skate park.
Skateboarders from multiple cities — including Painesville, Vermilion and Kirtland — attended the park board meeting on Jan. 24 and 15 shared their thoughts with the board.
Park Board member Linda O’Neil said she was "very impressed" with the skateboarders’ "passion" for skate parks.
Akron resident Cory Trayer said he and other skateboarders are "a little concerned with the size of the design for the allotted space that we have."
When the skate park was re-designed in Stow, Trayer said the concept "look[ed] great on paper," but thought the site was "very crowded" when he visited.
"Thinking about the space that we have is really important," said Trayer. "We want to have longevity of attendees here instead of just trying to force a larger skate park into a small area."
Cuyahoga Falls resident Daniel Bovard added he had concerns about the proposed size of the park.
"It looks real good on paper, but when you’re standing in a park like that, everything’s going to be real crowded," said Bovard. "It’s going to be hard for everybody to skate at once." He added he felt the design of the park was "not going to be very welcoming to beginners."
Bovard said he felt the project needed to be redesigned and said it should contain "more flat area, ledges, a pyramid."
He said he favored the plan to include a bowl component in the park.
Cuyahoga Falls resident Brian Shelford said he believed the park could be a "real asset" to Hudson and said the bowl should remain in the park design.
Shelford says the features in the city’s current park are "pretty sparse" and added the layout is "not horribly good."
"I think the potential is there," Shelford said. "You guys don’t have a huge amount of space here, but it’s still possible to build a really good park that’s worth coming to."
According to Shelford, if skateboarders like the park, they will visit local businesses and help support the economy.
And if the city creates a "good quality" skate park, Shelford believes it could be "one of the few good skate parks, if the only good skate park for pretty much an hour radius."
Aurora resident Fred Hirschman, who recently lived in Savannah, S.C., said the closest skate park there — one in Bluffton, S.C. — did not make good use of its space.
The park "catered to a certain style of skateboarding that was not at accessible levels to everyone," said Hirschman.
A skate park was eventually built in Savannah that was smaller than Bluffton’s, but its attendance, Hirschman said, was "through the roof" because city officials "kept the design of the skate park simple."
Hirschman said there are a "lot of really, really cool things going on" in Hudson’s conceptual design for the park.
"If the space was there for everything, that would be amazing," Hirschman said. "Right now, it’s not."
Sagamore Hills resident Peter Graves said he and several others at the meeting grew up going to Hudson’s skate park and noted the site "means a lot to us."
"I think you guys have the potential to really cater to everybody that’s here and all the styles of skating," said Graves. "It’s just got to be done correctly."
Fairview Park resident Michael Cuiffo, who works for Grindline Skateparks, said his company works with people to meet their wants for a park and added the focus should be on craftsmanship.
"What we do is our passion and I’d like to see Hudson get something built right and something kids would drive out to come skate it," Cuiffo said.
City Council in December approved a $25,865 contract with Grindline for design services for the project.
Noting that skateboarding will be part of the 2020 Olympic Games, Vermilion resident Reed Hattel said he expects to see "a lot of" communities offering skate parks. He encouraged the board to make the park "accessible" to all visitors, and added he felt the inclusion of lighting is important for safety.
Painesville resident Nick Mrosko told the board if they "build it right," skateboarders will travel long distances to use the skate park.
Kirtland resident Gavin Dautarus encouraged the board to have skateboarders draft ideas and sketch designs for the park.
"Make something for everyone," said Dautarus. "Make it a destination for Hudson."
Aaron Britton, 13, of Cuyahoga Falls told the board he would like to see a bowl and tiles in the park.
"I hear it’s amazing to skate on tiles but I’ve never traveled to a park that has these yet," said Aaron.
Park Board chairman Keith Smith thanked the skateboarders for sharing their thoughts.
"This is just a conceptual design idea," said Smith. "Nothing is absolutely at all set in stone. We like the input. We’re glad you’re here. We want to build something that we’re going to use and you’re going to use."
Trent Wash, assistant public works director for parks, golf and cemeteries, said the park is being designed by Grindline and the city will do a separate bid for construction. He noted the current park is about 7,500 square feet and said it will be expanded into the hill on the south side. Wash said that under the concept plan, "any bowl work would be to the west, so it’ll expand it about 500 to 700 square feet."
Wash emphasized the city had delayed completion of the new design "to get all this input," and said Grindline is now putting together a new concept plan based on the input the city has received.
Ideas for the skate park design can be emailed to email@example.com.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.