Ten-year-old Waynesville resident Zeb Powell has exclusive, 24-7 access to a skate park in town — it’s in his driveway.
Powell got hold of a half-pipe, rails and multiple ramps when the indoor BP Skate Park closed down last fall. But as it turns out, having a park to yourself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“He loves doing it with other people,” said his mother, Val Powell. “By himself, it’s just not as much fun.”
Zeb is one of many skateboarders in Waynesville waiting for the long-promised public skate park on Vance Street, near the Waynesville Recreation Center.
For now, skaters still have to deal with a town ban on skateboards on sidewalks and most town streets. Violators face a $50 fine and the possibility of having their boards confiscated.
The proposed fenced-in outdoor park will cost somewhere between $275,000 to $325,000 to construct. So far, the town has lined up $120,000 to devote to the project.
Included in that total is a $60,000 state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant Waynesville recently received, plus a $20,000 grant from the Waynesville Kiwanis Club. The rest comes from town funds.
With the idea of a skate park stalled for more than a decade, the state grant eluded the town when it first applied in 2009. To boost its chances of winning the coveted grant in the next cycle, the town dipped into its own coffers to fund a design plan for the park — hoping to prove it was dedicated to the idea. The plan worked.
Waynesville hired California firm Spohn Ranch Skateparks to lead the project earlier this year. In March, the firm held a public input meeting with local skaters to help shape the look of the park. The firm will present three potential designs at an online meeting next week.
Recreation Director Rhett Langston says he sees a parallel between skate parks and golf courses. Each should have its own unique character and offer different elements from those facilities nearby. With skate parks relatively close in Asheville and Hendersonville, Waynesville’s recreation department wants to offer something else with its park.
“We want ours to be as nice but also different,” Langston said. “So all skaters can go from one location to another.”
Right now, Waynesville parent Joe Moore said he’ll be thrilled to see any kind of skate park.
“I wish there was more money to make it happen immediately,” Moore said. “The wheels of bureaucracy always move too slow.”
Moore wholly supports the project, though, and is happy the park will have no entry fee. He says he’s not worried about the park being unsupervised by town staff.
“Most parents are not going to drop off their 7- to 12-year-old to skateboard and run errands,” said Moore.
Though Moore originally preferred an indoor park, he would now love to see an outdoor facility with a roof overhead to protect skaters like his son Dylan from wet and snowy weather. He also suggests wooden ramps rather than those made of concrete.
“Skateboarders like to see things change,” said Moore. “Concrete, once it’s poured, it’s always going to stay the same.”
Most skaters who attended the first public meeting supported a hybrid of a bowl and a street park with ramps, rails, stairs and more, Langston said.
Langston, who has been instrumental in moving the skate park forward, was himself a skater in his youth. But that was before the rise of skate parks nationwide.
“We would just fly down the hill in our neighborhood,” said Langston. “We just made do with what we had.”
The Waynesville Recreation Department is selling bricks with personalized messages for a walkway leading up to the park. So far, skaters have raised about $3,000.