Skatepark construction nears completion in Wilkes-Barre
Supporters say a concrete skatepark in Wilkes-Barre that’s more than 40 years in the making will be ready for riders this summer.
Construction on the new skatepark at Hollenback Park began in early May and is expected to be completed earlier than once projected. Last year, the city set aside $450,000 in federal stimulus money for the project. The American Ramp Company and partner Pivot Custom drew up the designs, with builders waiting until spring to break ground.
The Wilkes-Barre Skatepark Committee hopes the park off North Washington Street will attract more than just skateboarders. BMX bikers, rollerbladers and scooter riders were also in mind when the group pitched the idea to city officials, according to committee members.
In one of the final steps of construction, a crew of workers started pouring concrete last week. First, dirt needed to be moved, then ramps needed to be framed with wood and reinforcing steel rods called rebar. Laying out the park’s shape took a few weeks.
Builder Ryan Sillaman from North Carolina arrived in Wilkes-Barre to help with the concrete pour. He said a team of builders from all over the country has been working nonstop since they got to Wilkes-Barre.
“We’ve got somebody from Detroit, somebody from Florida, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Missouri,” he said. “We’re working like 14 hours a day.”
Local workers from Sweet Valley’s E.S.P. Concrete Pumping and Oley Industries of West Wyoming were on scene Thursday channeling the concrete to different sections of the park.
While the skatepark may look finished soon, it’s not ready just yet. The concrete needs time to cure and other features need to be added. On the skatepark’s blueprint, designers added honeycomb patterns on some of the ramps in a nod to the seal of the City of Wilkes-Barre.
Kevin Czekalski is a member of the skatepark committee and the owner of Plains Bike Shop. He’s hopeful that the park will grow even larger in the future. He said a few companies have expressed interest in helping to fund a second, or even third, phase of construction.
“This isn’t the end, when this is done… it’s the beginning of the next section,” Czekalski said.
The biggest hurdle for future financial support, Czekalski said, was proving that the park would actually be built. Some people thought a skatepark still wouldn’t become a reality, even after the announcement that the city set aside funding, he said.
On Czekalski’s wish list for future skatepark sections are a pump track – wavy ramps connected in a loop that allow riders to maintain momentum – and a bowl section, which resembles the empty swimming pools skaters have ridden since the 70s.
Czekalski is hopeful the park will be open soon. He heard from builders in mid-May that final touches could be completed by the end of June. The city has yet to announce an opening day for the park.