At long last, skate park vision now a concrete reality

fr skateparkWaynesville Alderman Gary Caldwell was the man of the hour, or perhaps the man of the decade, during the official ribbon cutting of the Waynesville Skate Park last Friday.


Caldwell pushed for his dream of a skateboard park for 15 years, almost as long as he has been on the town board.

The price tag — which ultimately topped out at $445,000 — posed the biggest obstacle to the skate park during the years. Several times the vision stalled out, relegated to the back-burner indefinitely, but Caldwell kept reviving it and moving the chains a bit farther. 

At the ribbon cutting last week, Caldwell recounted the ups-and-downs of the quest for a skate park, crediting myriad people and groups that stepped in at various junctures to help push the project a little closer to the finish line. 

Construction of the outdoor skateboard park on Vance Street began in April and finished last month.

“Watching the weekly progress was both exciting and rewarding knowing the fruits of all involved’s efforts were showing,” Caldwell said.

The Waynesville Kiwanis Club donated $20,000 toward the project. Skateboarders held pizza fundraisers and sold inscribed bricks, netting about $10,000 in private donations. The town landed a $60,000 grant from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, with another $5,000 from the foundation of professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. The Haywood Volunteer Center helped rally community buy-in and build momentum during the years.

But after an earnest stab at fundraising for the better part of the past decade, all the efforts combined scraped up just shy of $100,000. So Caldwell called on his fellow town board members last year to step in and use town funds to pay for the remaining $350,000.

Caldwell heralded the skateboard park as a positive and constructive recreation outlet for youth. It has been swarmed with skaters since it opened a few weeks ago.

VANS, a popular maker of skateboard apparel, sent a load of free merchandise to be handed out to skaters at the ribbon cutting, including shirts, caps, wallets, backpacks and neon laces. 

— By Becky Johnson

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