Of the dozens of projects currently underway in the City of Huntsville, one stands out for its perfect mix of nostalgia and innovation. Nearly 43 years after the original Get-A-Way Skatepark opened at 3058 Leeman Ferry Road, the future of skateboarding is rocketing into John Hunt Park.
Florida-based Team Pain Skate Parks, which is designing and overseeing the construction of the 52,000-square-foot skatepark, was in Huntsville this week to meet with other collaborators, stakeholders and the public about the progress of the park. Team Pain representatives joined members of the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville to survey the site and later joined them for a public meeting at Fractal Brewing.
“We’ll be on site in 10 days, and construction will take nine months,” said Jaclyn Walker, project coordinator for Team Pain Skate Parks. “We hope by next spring break to see people out here having fun.”
A famous fan
The skatepark is a private-public project. The Community Foundation is overseeing fundraising after receiving a $1 million anonymous donation to kickstart the initiative. The project also received a $10,000 grant from The Skatepark Project (TSP), a national skateboarding advocacy group founded by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. Representatives from TSP were also in town to learn more about the project.
Hawk, like many young skateboarders in the late 1970s, was excited by Get-A-Way, which he called, “one of the most legendary parks on the East Coast because of its unique design.” The original design included several bowls, a slalom course, snake run, a half-pipe, and a 3/4 pipe. Team Pain’s new design will feature a clover bowl, a snake run with depths ranging from three to 10 feet, and a 3/4 pipe, along with a street plaza.
“It’s exciting to see some of the original elements in the new plans, so we can share how it felt riding those revolutionary parks as young adults with a new generation,” Hawk said. “We hope to see more cities following the lead that Huntsville is setting.”
During the public meeting, a deck signed by Tony Hawk was given away. The lucky recipient was Ava Faulkenberry, an 11-year-old skateboarder from Huntsville.
She said she was excited about the skatepark “because it will be closer to my house.”
A positive influence
Skateparks have been shown to have a positive influence on cities through economic growth, crime reduction and improved well-being of participants. According to a recent TSP study, skateboarding improves mental health, encourages resilience, and facilitates a sense of community. That community has become increasingly diverse over the years, with women now making up nearly a quarter of all skaters.
The sport, which made its Olympic debut in 2020, is also one of the most easily accessible. Suspension wheelchairs, skates and accessible bikes can all be used. In addition, there is a low barrier to entry, with the only cost being that of the skateboard and protective equipment. Research from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission finds it’s even safer than many other sports. For example, playing basketball is more than twice as likely to lead to injury.
Click here to learn more about the fundraising efforts.