The Reading Skatepark Association is moving forward with their mission to build a skate park on Riverfront Drive in the City of Reading. The nonprofit organization held a public design meeting at the Berks County Community Foundation to gather the public’s opinion about the park. Developers, local skaters and community leaders packed the conference room to both learn more about the project and give their feedback.

To give a little background and give examples of other projects across the country, Micah Shapiro of Grindline Skateparks (based in Seattle, WA) gave a small presentation before taking questions and comments from the audience.

Shapiro talks about the process of building a skate park.

“Our goal tonight is to introduce you Grindline and get your input on a skatepark that meets the needs and desires of the community” – Micah Shapiro

Who is Grindline?

Grindline was founded in 1990 and since has designed and built over 250 skateparks from Orcas Island in Washington State to the island of Okinawa in Japan. With a “for skateboarders, by skateboarders” reputation, Grindline is mostly known for their innovation and building parks that fit the needs of the community.

For Shapiro, Grindline is successful when the public participates in the whole process. His goal is to create a pride of ownership for local skaters so when its completed they feel a sense of ownership. “If i’m out here ill come and skate it but you guys are going to be the ones skating it day to day so it really needs to be your park.”

Reading Skatepark Association selling apparel outside the meeting to help raise money for the purposed park.

The process

For many in the room this is the first time they are seeing what it takes to built a skatepark. From design, construction and fundraising Shapiro considers himself more of a guide than a developer. “Im not here and Grindline isn’t here to say this is what your getting, enjoy it.” Breaking away from the cookie cutter skatepark design, Shapiro says the purpose of the meeting is to educate and present the opportunities the site has to offer.

Making the park for the Reading community is paramount to Shapiro, which is why he had everyone at the meeting fill out a questionnaire asking what they were looking for in a local park. With no wrong answer Shapiro was looking for feedback on everything from the parks layout, theme and usability.

Shapiro answers questions from the audience after the presentation.

Shapiro did highlight a few key areas to focus on while designing a skatepark, the first being the importance of building a “timeless” design, something skaters can enjoy for many years to come. Next was making it skatable for all ages and ability levels. The idea is to provide a way for people to gain new skills and progress throughout the park. Finally, Shapiro mentioned the importance of providing things to do for people who aren’t into skateboarding. “skateboarding and BMXing is a great spectator activity because every time you come by their’s always something different going on”.

Where to go from here..

Right now the goal is to come up a conceptual design for a 20,000 square foot skatepark. Shapiro expects the park to be developed in phases, as funding comes in a new part of the park will be built. Shapiro’s suggestion is to build a concept park that creates a regional draw to develop tourism.

A few things Shapiro and Grindline will be looking into at the proposed location are elevation changes, drainage, soil conditions and underground utilities. This will give Grindline a base to start developing the visual concept of the park and an estimate to start construction.

The next meeting for the park will be held in November which will go over the preliminary concept and gather feedback from the community. After November’s meeting the final concept will be unveiled sometime in January 2018. This will show an accurate estimate for construction and as Shapiro says ‘the majority of the fundraising begins’. Want to get involved! go to readingskateparkassociation.org