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Sylva gets temporary skate park

Skaters raised money for the Jackson County Skatepark at the Sylva Skate Jam Saturday, Sept. 3. Jared Lee photo Skaters raised money for the Jackson County Skatepark at the Sylva Skate Jam Saturday, Sept. 3. Jared Lee photo

Over the next month, the Town of Sylva will be constructing a temporary skatepark in the lot behind Motion Makers, the result of work by both the town and a grassroots group of Jackson residents.

“I think [a temporary ramp] is a good idea since we don’t know how long it’s going to take for [a permanent park] to get finalized,” said Mayor Linda Sossamon at a town board meeting this May. 

A grassroots organization of Jackson County residents, the “Sylva Skatepark Project” has been advocating for the construction of a skatepark in the county for almost a year now. Both the town of Sylva and the county commission have been receptive to the group’s endeavors. The county will likely be the entity that pays for an eventual skatepark, and while site exploration has begun, the project was not included in the 2022-23 fiscal year budget. 

While skaters in Jackson eagerly await the construction of a more permanent park, Commissioners Greg McPherson and Mary Gelbaugh have been at the forefront of an effort to provide a temporary solution in the interim. 

“I believe Sylva needs more amenities, more things for people to do when they come downtown, that being kids, teens or adults,” said McPherson. “This is an opportunity to provide a quick remedy for teens to hang out and have something fun and constructive to do.”

Late last month, the town finalized a lease agreement with Kent Cranford, previous owner of Motion Makers, and current owner of the building that houses the business on Allen Street in Sylva. The lot behind the business has been vacant for a while now, other than playing host to a derelict sailboat. The town was able to get rid of the sailboat and do some grading on the site to prepare it for the skate equipment. It will not be required to pay money in order to use the lot for the temporary skatepark. 

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“Since we moved into that building eight years ago, I’ve always wanted to do something in the back that would be recreational-minded,” said Cranford. “When the town leaders inquired about temporarily locating the skate ramp, it seemed like a good test for that space along with solving a problem for the town and the skateboarders. As long as the property is treated respectfully, this short-term solution should work out for everyone till the town can find a permanent location within their park facilities.”

The town has purchased a half-pipe with a five-foot extension, quarter-pipe, two rail slides and a box from OC Ramps, a California-based company selling ramp kits that users can assemble with basic hand tools. Town employees will be responsible for putting the equipment together, which cost the town $9,700, including weatherizing equipment and paint. 

“I want to thank Jake, Paige and all staff for ordering the skate equipment; it looks like we came in just under budget, and that should last for quite a while,” McPherson said at the Aug. 25 town meeting. “I want to thank you for all your hard work on that, it looks like we will be skating in October. I am very pleased.”

The town estimates that everything could be put together and ready to go in October. In the meantime, efforts to get a permanent skatepark in the county aren’t slowing down. The Sylva Art + Design Committee plans to do a call for artists and host a fundraiser for other equipment, or for the eventual, permanent county park Friday, Sept. 30. Last weekend at the 4M Mountain Makers Mushrooms and Music Festival in Sylva, organizers held a skatepark fundraiser in the form of a Skate JAM competition. 

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