Magazine article Parks & Recreation

How We Did It

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

How We Did It

Article excerpt

The evolution of a skatepark into a world-class place for kids

Kennesaw, Georgia, is a welcoming, family-friendly community of 30,000 in the northwest suburbs of Atlanta. The town has many amenities - a Smithsonian- affiliated museum, a 16-acre botanical garden and 130 acres of parks, public buildings and greenspaces. So there's something for everyone - almost.

In the mid-1990s, a park and recreation study was commissioned to determine the community's recreational needs, adopt standards based on population and design a master plan for development.

"Our master plan included ballfields, tennis courts and trails, but it also identified a weakness: There weren't any facilities or activities for kids who weren't into team sports," says Mark Mathews, a city councilman at the time and Kennesaw's current mayor.

So began the push for a skateboarding venue. The idea was further supported by a Cobb County analysis that identified a need for a regional skateboarding facility. The analysis showed there were more than 30,000 boarders in the county and there wasn't a single public facility to support their sport.

A committee was formed to promote fundraising, and many community members rallied behind the effort by signing pledges and making donations. In 2008, a pledge from a local skating enthusiast allowed the city to build a temporary "skate spot," but the dream of a full-fledged skatepark capable of hosting regional or even national professional events was still the priority. In 2011, the concept of a $1.4 million, 40,000-square-foot park was put before the voters in a special local option sales tax (SPLOST) referendum

In the meantime, a committee member who was also a sports marketing professional consulted with pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek about Kennesaw's project. In the spring of 2010, Dyrdek paid the city a visit and toured the potential site.

"Rob wanted to be an active participant in the project and even agreed to fund the construction drawings," says project leader and Assistant City Manager JeffDrobney. …

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