Skatepark by ocean slated to open in September

County will offer
clinics to teach, train prospective users

Staff Writer

County will offer
clinics to teach, train prospective users
Staff Writer

CHRIS KELLY staff A skatepark for in-line skaters and skateboarders is in the process of being constructed in Long Branch.CHRIS KELLY staff A skatepark for in-line skaters and skateboarders is in the process of being constructed in Long Branch.

It became obvious that there was a high demand for a skatepark in Long Branch when kids starting attending the council meetings to ask where they could skate, Mayor Adam Schneider said.

The Monmouth County Park System listened and began constructing the county-owned "SkatePlex" on 4.5 acres of land at Seven Presidents Park near the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, the mayor noted.

Laura Kirkpatrick, public information director for the Monmouth County Park System, said this project is just part of the park system’s commitment to provide facilities throughout the county.

"There was a need for it [the skatepark], and the county park system does not have a facility like this," Kirkpatrick said. "It is a part of the improvements to the north end of Seven Presidents Park."

The $1.5 million project is being funded by the park system’s annual budget. The park staff assisted Lucas Electric, the contractor, in designing it, according to Kirkpatrick. Spohn Ranch, based in California, is building it.

Construction began in July 2003, and the park is estimated to be opened by the beginning of September.

"There was a lot of demand for this skatepark," Schneider said. "The county approached us [about the property at Seven Presidents] and we told them it needed to be used for active recreation."

The SkatePlex will include a skatepark with undulating track, ramps and a concrete bowl for skateboarders, bikers and in-line skaters. There also will be a separate skating rink with a flat surface for those who prefer a smoother skate.

According to Brian Moore, sales manager with Spohn Ranch, the skatepark will be approximately 17,000 square feet.

Kirkpatrick said the skatepark is designed to accommodate the different components, and is realigned as it is being constructed to conform to the site.

The flat skating rink will be 75-by-185 feet, she said.

The skatepark will include the typical park elements, according to Kirkpatrick.

Moore said the skatepark will be unique because it will be a hybrid park, a combination of in-ground concrete structures with above-ground obstacles. He said the park will include the following features:

• An in-ground concrete bowl course that will be 6 feet below ground;

• A large streak course that will be 4-6 feet high and will contain the perimeter with extended decks for standing room on the outskirts of the ramp;

• Hip ramps that will be located at the corners of the course and allow access to the other side;

• Perimeter ramps that will lead to the interior ramps;

• Hubba ledges that are similar to a handrail, except they are in a solid box form;

• Bank ramps, which are straight surface ramps that are angled at a specific degree;

• U-shaped ramps used to gain speed and change directions;

• Quarter pipes, which are half the side of a U-shaped ramp and are used to gain speed.

• A six-sided pyramid ramp, which allows access in six directions;

• A fly box, which is used as a jumping ramp, and,

• A kinked ledge, which allows skaters to go up, down and across the course.

The park system is still working out the operational guidelines, but Kirkpatrick said it will be a use-at-your-own risk facility.

"We are not hiring a staff member to oversee activity," she said. "The park rangers will have the authority to enforce rules and make sure people are abiding by the guidelines."

There is no age requirement at the facility, but the proper safety equipment for the sport will be required.

"If someone gets hurt, a park ranger will respond, based on the season," Kirkpatrick said. "Lifeguards may also respond. Our staff is trained to respond to these occasions all the time."

As part of the Seven Presidents Park improvements, there will also be a 1,260-square-foot restroom building attached to a 28-by-32 foot shelter building at the site.

Other improvements include: a paved walking trail, seasonal beach showers, sidewalk improvements, a 95-car paved parking lot and 412 plants to be placed around the improvements.

"This project is more than just for skaters," Kirkpatrick said.

She said that 64 percent of the people who come to Seven Presidents Park do so in the summer months and she is hoping that by making this a year-round facility, the number of people who come to the park in off-peak months will increase.

Programs and clinics will be offered at the skatepark to train and teach individuals the sport, Kirkpatrick said.