ANTIGONISH: The company bringing the long-awaited skate park to Antigonish visited on February 6 to host their first of two community design workshops.
Bill Gurney, the project’s design manager with New Line Skateparks, said the design workshop’s purpose was to get design ideas and take what the town wants to see in their park and turn it into a reality.
“This is your future skate park, this is your design workshop – I’m merely here as a facilitator,” he said addressing the room of 20 people. “The whole reason we’re here tonight is for the Town of Antigonish to communicate everything they’ve been dreaming about and envisioning for their future park. We can make a lot of potential things happen; the plate of opportunities is wide open before us.”
New Line can create almost any kind of style of park for the town, but the shape of that is going to be determined by the community design workshops.
During the workshop, New Line provided examples from their previously built skate parks as reference material, then moderated two interactive exercises to pull out preferences and priorities about the park’s style and terrain elements.
“I can pull some empirical data away from this meeting so I can present a clear case of why certain terrain elements are prioritized over others,” Gurney said. “Because you’re trying to build a group consensus and work collaboratively as a group to identify the priorities for the project.”
The town has budgeted $573,750 to develop their first modern, integrated site-built, cast-concrete skate park, which will be the second skate park in Canada built in partnership with a university. New Line Skateparks will provide and complete all aspects of facility design and construction.
It may have been 30-years in the making, but reaching this point has taken persistent drive from the community, and a partnership that included the County and Town of Antigonish, StFX University, and the Antigonish Skatepark Collective.
The design portion of the project is broken up in the concept design phase and the detailed design phase. In about eight weeks, New Line will return to present their initial concept design, featuring three design alternatives to receive feedback on and discuss collaboratively and critically.
“We take this part of the design very seriously, we can design almost anything but its really important to us that our design is what you’re looking for and want to see in your park,” Gurney said. “Creating a skate park we get to flex a lot of creative muscle and explore a lot of creative options because there is no real preset rulebook for what a park looks like.”
The detailed design will happen through May and June with construction slated to begin in August, lasting roughly 10-weeks. Constructing Antigonish’s skate park is Steve Hare of Pro Pour Concrete, who is well known around Nova Scotia as a park builder.
More youth and young adults across North America are participating in wheeled sports and municipalities are developing parks at a rate New Line has never seen before, to the point where it’s becoming rare a decent-sized town or city doesn’t have a park.
“What we’ve been seeing over the last 10-15 years, when you’re city or town doesn’t develop a park for you, then by default your town and the entire built environment around you, that becomes the default skate park,” Gurney said. “Our goal is to create great functional terrain, that’s developed with purpose, which gives users a safe and challenging place to ride.”
With any given park, there are really three variables that shape the direction or shape the design; budget, in Antigonish’s case it’s an all-inclusive $573,750; site location, what is and isn’t possible based on size of property and lay of the land; and input, what style of park, terrain features interested in.
Gurney’s initial rough draft indicated a 590 square metre park, strategically placed without removing any trees and had a three-metre buffer inside the property line of the 11,000 square foot location along West Street. This is something the people in attendance, including the Antigonish Skatepark Collective, thought should be built bigger to take advantage of and maximize the full space, with priority going towards skate-able material rather than amenities.
“We want every park to have its own unique identity and be really community specific,” Gurney said. “We have no interest to going across the county creating cookie-cutter, carbon-copy parks. We want Antigonish to put their thumbprint on the design themselves.”
The Antigonish Skatepark Collective find themselves in a fundraising campaign to help reach the funding amount to achieve this vision. To find out how you can get involved or make a donation, e-mail Jason Mason at: firstname.lastname@example.org.