GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Grand Rapids will finally have a skate park downtown.
The city is debuting a custom-designed skate park built with community input. There will be wood infrastructure, concrete fixtures and rails for people to skate on, something they aren't legally allowed to do any where else in the city.
The park has been in conversation for a long time, according to Downtown GR Director of Public Space Management Kimberly Van Driel.
"We started a committee of local bikers and skaters in the community to help us construct this about a year ago. They helped design the layout and the park itself, so it was really a grass roots effort." Van Driel said.
In March, the funding got approved and it was slated to open around June, but city permitting and the pandemic resulted in delays.
"There was a lot of reasons building out has gotten delayed. Requesting for proposals took a lot of time because we wanted to make sure we got a company that was local and invested in the project," Van Driel said. "AGA Nation and Rise Above Ventures are helping us with the build out and also our programming, which will roll out in the spring and teach people whatever they want to learn."
A soft opening ceremony for Grand Rapids' new skate park will take place Oct. 16.
It will have professional skate performances to both 'wow' the guests and show others how to use the new equipment before opening it up to the public around 6 p.m.
The program coordinator, Megan Catcho, told us that this skate project has always been in the GR Forward Plan and she's happy to see it finally happen. She says the program is pretty 'low key' and is just presenting the concept of a small pop up bike, skate, and scooter park to the public with some good music and entertainment.
The only rules we know of so far are that there are no 'electric' scooters or bikes allowed.
As for how long it will stay around, Van Driel says the park is just another test that the city is trying out as they plan for a more permanent structure.
"This is a testing ground for activities. Among the river corridor, we do art installations, drive in movies, you name it in this location to test out what works," Van Driel said. "We are able to test it out here to see how does this work in this space, is this a good location for a more permanent skate park facility in the future or does it need to go somewhere else, are the amenities that we are adding good or should we be doing something different? So this is a testing ground to try out things and get some feedback from the community about what they want to see here."
The skate park's finishing touches will be the artwork.
Ten local artist have been hired to do murals on the ground, while some artist have already finished painting certain fixtures in the park. The ground work murals will start next week after the park has opened.
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