Skatepark Feasibility Study Complete

Skatepark Feasibility Study Complete
A skatepark feasibility study completed this week is expected to help secure grant funding. Submitted image.

BERLIN– A feasibility study completed this week validates a local nonprofit’s plans to bring a skatepark to Berlin.

According to a new feasibility analysis, a 10,000-square-foot skatepark, which could be built in phases for roughly $700,000, could serve Berlin’s core skateboarding community. Members of We Heart Berlin, the nonprofit that’s been advocating and fundraising to bring a skatepark to town, are encouraged by the report’s findings.

“The biggest takeaway is it’s going to cost a lot less than we expected,” said Tony Weeg, president and founder of We Heart Berlin.

Since it was launched by Weeg last year, We Heart Berlin has been working toward expanding recreational opportunities in Berlin. Though the nonprofit has renovated the Henry Park basketball courts and is bringing ping pong to Burbage Park, its primary goal continues to be establishing a skatepark in Berlin. A feasibility analysis created by Salisbury University’s BEACON (Business Economic and Community Outreach Network) is expected to aid in that process. Though still being finalized, the report will be submitted to the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore as We Heart Berlin seeks grant funding for a skatepark.

“It basically says Berlin is the perfect spot for this,” said Weeg after reviewing the report this week.

BEACON’s report reviews the demographics of the town and potential skatepark users as well as the proximity of other area skateparks—those in Ocean Pines and Ocean City. Weeg said the report estimates roughly 1400 casual skateboarders in Worcester County with about 126 of them in Berlin. A 10,000-square-foot park could serve about 60 skateboarders at a time.

Weeg, noting that the report was not yet final, said it didn’t even consider the bikers who could be using the park’s proposed pump track feature.

He said the report, which is based on data from various sources, states that skateparks provide a safe environment for skateboarding, as most injuries occur on the road.

“The lion’s share of injuries occur on streets and sidewalks, not on skateparks,” he said.

BEACON also reports that skateparks are often linked to positive outcomes for youth in the areas of “childhood obesity rates, depression and teen suicide rates, drug and alcohol abuse and gang related activity.”

Because he’s heard concern about drug use and skateparks locally, Weeg was thrilled to see his belief in the benefits of skateparks corroborated.

“Contrary to popular opinion skate parks are a proven deterrent,” he said.

BEACON’s study recommends a park in Berlin be constructed in at least two phases. The first, which would include site work and 5,000 square feet, is estimated to cost slightly more than $300,000. The second phase, which would include another 5,000 square feet of usable area, would also cost slightly more than $300,000. A potential third phase could address additional needs or issues not identified in the prior two phases.

The BEACON report is based on the concept of a skatepark being built at one of the town’s existing parks. Weeg is hoping to see it added to Henry Park. He sees Heron Park as more of a nature park, Stephen Decatur Park as a kids park and Henry Park as the place for more intense activity.

“It makes sense to turn Henry Park into more of an action park,” he said, adding that there was more than an acre of underutilized open space at the park.

He also thinks a skatepark at Henry Park could spur the state to more seriously consider the pedestrian bridge over Route 113 Berlin’s mayor has been advocating for.

“This is going to push the state toward that because Henry Park is really where we’re hoping to have this,” he said.

Weeg said that in the coming weeks the BEACON report would be finalized and its findings reviewed. It will be submitted to the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore as We Heart Berlin tries to get grant funding for site and park design.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.