Downtown Skate Park Plans Roll Forward

Des Moines Register - Des Moines, Iowa

by Dave Dolmage

August 25, 2011

A proposed downtown skate park already being billed as one of the largest in the nation rolled closer to reality this week after a community group met with the California company hired to design the facility.

Youth leaders with the community group AMOS, which stands for A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy, met with Colby Carter, a designer for Carlifornia Skateparks of Upland, Calif., about the proposed riverfront skate park. AMOS leaders are in talks with city officials about donating the land and the group received a $50,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines to help begin the design process.

"This was always the dream; it was AMOS's original vision," said Paul Turner, lead organizer for the group.

AMOS was instrumental in developing the city's first skate park at the Four Mile Community Center on the city's northeast side. AMOS officials said that facility has always been the first step toward building a regional park that would put Des Moines on the skateboarding map.

On Monday Colby Carter, the designer with California Skateparks, visited Des Moines to take a look at the proposed site, located alongside the west bank of the Des Moines River and bordered on the north by Interstate Highway 235, on the south by the Center Street Bridge, and on the west by Second Avenue.

Carter's initial design, which features a variety of terrain designed to give both experienced and novice skaters a place to skate, would measure approximately 65,000 square feet, making it one of the largest facilities in the country. It will be the largest park that Carter has ever designed.

"It's truly going to have one of everything," Carter said. "The site location is world class, next to this amazing river."

Designing the park is only the first obstacle, however. Next, AMOS members have to figure out how to pay for the construction, estimated to cost between $1 million and $2 million.

AMOS leaders are optimistic about fundraising efforts, Turner said, and they plan to construct the park in phases, as money allows.

"We have to have private fundraising to make it happen," Turner said. "So in our mind, it's a done deal."

The initial plan is for AMOS to pay for the construction of the skate park, and upon completion hand the facility over to the city for long-term maintenance.

AMOS officials also would like to make the skate park available 24/7. The proposed facility would be lit at night and would use security cameras to deter crime.

Des Moines Parks and Recreation Director Don Tripp, who also attended the meeting, declined to comment on the record about the project.

Kevin Jones, manager of Subsect Skate Shop, said a downtown skate park could transform Des Moines into a destination for thousands of skaters across the Midwest.

"It's going to be huge, not only for the skateboarders here, but for the industry," Jones said. "It's going to put Des Moines on the map."

Jones, 34, said that employees at Subsect, located in downtown's East Village neighborhood, are keeping local skateboarders informed about the skate park's progress and that they're "super psyched" about the facility.

He said a downtown park would give local skateboarders a place to skate where they wouldn't run afoul of the law or damage private property.

"I'm too old to deal with security guards," Jones said. "I just want to be able to skate and go home."

See other designs

Samples of other designs by California Skateparks, which was hired to design Des Moines' downtown skate park, can be viewed on the company's website,