Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tony Hawk helps unveil Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park along Beltline

Posted By on Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 9:22 PM

On Saturday, a motley crowd of skateboarders (including the legendary Tony Hawk), Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, city officials and nearby residents gathered along the Beltline to celebrate the grand opening of the Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park, the city's first public skate spot.

Located in the Old Fourth Ward in the shadows of Freedom Parkway, the 15,000 square-foot facility along the Beltline offers bowls, curbs, smooth-rolling concrete mounds — all the things a skateboarder could want.

"I'm shocked at how big it is," Hawk, whose philanthropic foundation awarded the project $25,000, told CL between skating and signing autographs. "It's so expansive and offers something for all skill levels. It's great."

The project's been a long time coming. Thomas Taylor, owner of Little Five Points' Stratosphere Skateboards, first broached the city with the idea of building a public skate park 15 years ago. In addition to questions about funding, officials wondered if it'd be feasible to build the skate park in an existing park. Nothing happened. Meanwhile, Taylor watched as other local governments built skate projects. (Gwinnett County has eight.)

Six years ago, the Atlanta skateboarding community started practicing tricks at an abandoned piece of property owned by Cox Communications at the end of Willoughby Way. While still pushing the city to build a skate park, it became a safe spot to ride. Bar-be-cues were held and vigilante concrete was occasionally poured.

Thankfully, Taylor said, Beltline officials and the Trust for Public Land worked with that skateboarding community to turn that same rough piece of property into the glimmering facility where skaters on Saturday watched Hawk — and more than 60 other skateboarders, at least — practice tricks. (Hawk said Taylor and Beltline officials' clear vision for the site, plus the preliminary groundwork already completed, played a role in his foundation's decision to award the cash.)

Skaters on Saturday were ecstatic that, after years of driving to other counties and paying entrance fees to skate at other public and private parks, Atlanta's vibrant skateboard community now had a safe, well-designed place to ride without fear of being hassled by police or security guards.

"It's kind of like a weird dream," Taylor told CL as skateboarders of all ages practiced on Saturday. "I'm stoked. The kids are stoked."

View Dustin Chambers' gallery of the Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park's grand opening if you couldn't make it out on Saturday.

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Slideshow
Old Fourth Ward Skate Park Opening

Old Fourth Ward Skate Park Opening

June 11, 2011, Old Fourth Ward - Skateboarders (including the legendary Tony Hawk), Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, city officials and nearby residents gathered along the Beltline to celebrate the grand opening of the Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park, the city's first public skate spot.

Located in the Old Fourth Ward in the shadows of Freedom Parkway, the 15,000 square-foot facility along the Beltline offers bowls, curbs, smooth-rolling concrete mounds — all the things a skateboarder could want.

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