Skateboard park rising in Philadelphia

Skateboard park rising in Philadelphia

By Karen Langley
Inquirer Staff Writer

Avid skateboarders Michael Greenman, 14, and Raymond Fredericksen, 16, rolled by Pop’s Playground in Kensington yesterday afternoon and saw where they may finally learn to land a 360.

What they saw was four men in work clothes installing a cinderblock retaining wall that will one day be a ramp of the only skate park in this part of the city.

Both teens said they usually ride on the streets, but they might give the park a try. Skatebording, they said, gives them a way to move and something to do.

“I just like skating because I get bored,” Fredericksen said, swinging his skateboard. “I don’t like to fight and do dumb stuff and get locked up.”

If construction goes as planned, they’ll have a place to practice their tricks by early spring.

A dozen men associated with skateboard shops have labored since Wednesday to build a skate park in an unused corner of Pop’s Playground, a spit of land on Trenton Avenue between Hazzard and Huntingdon Streets with jungle gyms, a basketball court and picnic tables.

“It’s about building up community and giving kids options,” said Jesse Clayton, a 26-year-old bartender who designed the skate park. “It’s really just to give people a place to skate.”

Skateboarding on public property not designated for that use is against city codes and has been for 10 years.

Clayton said the project was born in the spring, when the New Kensington Community Development Corp. approached Steve Miller, who owns Exit Philadelphia, a skateboard shop on Girard Avenue, about turning part of Pop’s into something productive for neighborhood skaters.

When the project is finished, Pop’s Playground will be “a skate park in disguise,” Clayton said.

The landscaping will weave trees and shrubbery among the banking and ramps, and the Mural Arts Program has shown interest in painting the park, he said.

The project will cost $15,000 to complete, Clayton said.

All the park’s construction is undertaken by volunteers tuned into the local skating scene.

Though they are doing everything possible to conserve money, such as mixing their own concrete, they need much more money to have the project finished anytime soon, Clayton said.

They’ve gathered a few thousand dollars from an arts show organized by Exit Philadelphia, and received money from businesses and Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund, a group raising money for the skate park planned for construction between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Schuylkill, but they need more.

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