McKoy Skate Park in Decatur is open following renovationHeath Rowland, 16, skateboards a holdover from the old park during the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the newly rebuilt McCoy Skate Park in the city of Decatur on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. “I’m really happy with the improvements,” Rowland said. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur, GA — McKoy Skate Park is open following renovations to the park. Decatur officials celebrated the ribbon cutting of the updated facility on Saturday, Jan. 20.
The park closed in September 2023 for the renovation, and construction began in October.
Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers said he hopes a lot of memories are made at the skate park.
“This is for y’all,” Powers said to the skaters at the ribbon cutting. “Please enjoy it with your friends.”
The Decatur City Commission approved a contract with American Ramp Company for the renovations in 2022 and approved a change order earlier last year, which brought the contract amount to $365,000.
Decatur skaters met with city staff and the American Ramp Company in April 2023 to provide feedback on what the refresh of the skate park should entail. The skate park was built in December 2003 with Woodward Equipment, which has since gone out of business, and replacement equipment was not available.
Commissioner Kelly Walsh followed the process from the beginning as the city commission and the Decatur Skate Club made their pitch to the city commission.
“[It’s exciting] to see it come full circle as a youth voice letting us know what they wanted, what they thought would be great for their needs, then seeing it go through an evolution and a process that had a couple of moments where things got more complicated, or different than they expected, but that they could still insert themselves and be there for the ribbon cutting,” Walsh told Decaturish.
“This is the stuff that keeps communities healthy and resilient – is providing the types of facilities that people want and need to be active, to pursue their interests,” Walsh added.
Some concerns were raised about the renovations in December, which prompted a few Instagram posts from the parks and recreation department to address the construction and communication. Community members were worried that the final design differed considerably from the original design.
Some changes had been made to the design that “were to retain existing pieces from the previous skate park and to reflect the available space at the park,” one of the posts says.
The final design of the park includes elements like a pyramid, a hip, ledges, and a quarter.
“Efforts were made to preserve the existing ledges and integrate them into the new design,” the post states. “It’s crucial to clarify that only the ledges that were unlawfully removed from the park won’t be reinstated. Our aim is to create a park catering to diverse skill levels, ensuring elements for beginners and advanced skaters.”
The post also mentioned that the department and contractors were able to create two additional pieces that weren’t in the previous plans.
Parks and Recreation Director Greg White also told Decaturish that the change came about to preserve the ledges.
“The degree to which adding the ledges would change the park’s design wasn’t fully realized by city staff until the skate park started to take shape and the city received feedback indicating that the built skate park differed considerably from the published vision,” White said. “Meetings and discussions took place afterward to evaluate the possibility of modifications to the new park to better align with community expectations, with an understanding that altering one element could impact others due to the interconnected nature of the park. Despite differences from the initial plan, skaters of various levels with whom staff members spoke conveyed a general consensus that the park offers diverse opportunities for skaters to explore, build their skills, and enjoy various aspects.”
The department also acknowledged the issue in another update on the project posted on Instagram.
“We messed up. If we had it to do over again, we would have provided a revised rendering showing the incorporation of the new ledges and any other changes for your consideration and would have particularly consulted with the DHS Skate Club for feedback about the revisions,” the post says. “In our eagerness to stick to the project timeline and trust our builders to realize the community’s vision, we fell short in maintaining open communication about the project changes.”
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In April 2023, White said that the most exciting part of the project has been seeing the Decatur High School Skate Club come forward and make a pitch to the city.
“This is your project. I’m behind the scenes,” White said. “I want this to be a voice for our young people in this community.”
Decatur Skate Club member Heath Rowland told Decaturish that the renovation was a long time coming. He added that he enjoys the ledges in the park.
“I like how there’s a lot of transition in here. I never really skate transitions, so it’s an opportunity for me to learn how to do that because it’s so close to my house,” he said.
Chris Seldon, the former teacher sponsor of the skate club, said it was exciting to see the project come to fruition after seeing the students ask and get funding from the city commission and provide input on the design.
Branden Smith grew up skating at McKoy Park and was also happy to see it open after the renovations.
“[The elements are] definitely creative and makes you think about skating in a more abstract way,” Smith said. “It has some of the old elements, so that’s good. It keeps the core element there. I think it broadens what you can do more than the old park.”
He added that the park is a good space to have a relaxing skate session and learn new tricks.
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