Survey for Utica skate park collects design ideas from skaters

Not everyone arrived at the same time for the start of the discussion on new and improved skate parks for the city at the Parkway Recreation Center in Utica on April 29.

People kept coming, in twos or threes, of varying ages and backgrounds. Couples, friends, parents with children. Some brought their skateboards with them. Eventually there were over 30 people and a general shortage of seating.

They were greeted with a modest setup – just a projector and portable screen – but the company represented was anything but. Spohn Ranch, a pioneer in skate park construction, was represented by Jason Baldessari, in the development of the company’s skateboard.

While Spohn Ranch builds municipal skateparks across the country, they’ve also built features for the X-Games, Dew Tour, and Red Bull. Founder Aaron Spohn built his first halfpipe in the backyard of the house he rented near Los Angeles International Airport, which has become a stopping point for professional athletes visiting the city.

“The point is, if you can think about it, we can build it,” Baldessari said at the April 29 meeting. “It’s just a question of the budget that it’s going to take, will the insurance be okay with that.”

How Utica Skate Park Will Be Funded

The City of Utica has allocated $1 million in construction costs for a new skate park in TR Proctor Park in East Utica, where the T-ball courts are located behind Sal Longo Field. Another $250,000 will be used to revitalize the existing Jason G. Waterman skateboard facility at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Watson Place in West Utica, originally built by Spohn Ranch in the 90s.

Funds for the skateparks will come from the US Federal Bailout Act; the city received more than $60 million.

With the existing concrete slab at the Waterman facility, Baldessari recommended concentrating the space on street elements like handrails, stairs, curbs and ramps. The existing elements would be removed and replaced with concrete, so there are no transition plates between the slab and the ramps, as well as other elements.

TR Proctor’s largest facility will have the ability to house street, transition and pump track elements. Digging a bowl is in play at Proctor, as well as creating an interaction between the different styles.

“We have enough budget to make it a completely full park,” Baldessari said.

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Jason Baldessari chats with the crowd about construction ideas and costs at the Parkway Recreation Center in Utica on Friday, April 29, 2022.

Investigation: Make the skatepark unique to Utica

While skate parks have a reputation for being blocks of gray concrete, Baldessari said that’s changing in modern parks.

“The idea now is to create eye-pleasing installations,” he said. “Let’s bring color in there, let’s bring textures in there. Let’s bring unique structural features to the way we design these features. »

Part of that includes elements unique to Utica, so the park is recognizable at a glance from photos, Baldessari said. An online survey, launched Thursday, is designed to get feedback from skaters on level of ability, accessibility and preference for elements.

“The whole idea of ​​the survey is that we can build a profile of what the group looks like,” Baldessari said. “So when I sit down with my design group and we try to figure out, ‘Okay, do we need more bowl, do we need more street’, we can look at the survey on the results and say, ‘All right, we know this group is more street guys, let’s go in that direction.'”

Spohn Ranch will hold further meetings in the near future to share design plans based on feedback.

Steve Howe is the town reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at showe@gannett.com.

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