Ferndale and Detroit got some good news when they learned they were the recipients of $250,000 matching grants from the Tony Hawk Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to build free public skateparks.
Ferndale plans to build its skatepark at Wilson Park, while Detroit’s will be built at Riverside Park, which was the subject of a land swap deal three years ago with the Moroun family, owners of the Ambassador Bridge, which lies just to the east.
It will be Ferndale’s first public skatepark of any kind, while Detroit has the Ride It Sculpture Park on the East Davison Freeway, the Wig DIY Skatepark in the Cass Corridor and the Wayfinding Skatepark near Campus Martius, where Tony Hawk himself made an appearance this spring to mark its reopening for the season. Hawk also purchased an old home in Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood two years ago and frequently visits the city with his wife, who is from the Detroit area and has relatives here.
Ferndale’s skatepark will feature poured concrete bowls and other features, though a design has yet to be chosen. Brad Dahlhofer, the co-owner of B. Nektar meadery (and a friend of yours truly) who has been active working with the city’s parks and rec department on the project, says he’s connected with many top skatepark designers and builders, saying in a Facebook group, “We WILL have a bad-ass park.”
Work on the Ferndale park is expected to start next spring.
The grants were part of a round of more than $1.5 million to build skateparks in low-income communities (wait, Ferndale’s a low-income community?). Other cities receiving grants were Ypsilanti and Port Huron, plus Rochester and Amherst, N.Y. The two nonprofits launched the Built To Play Skatepark Program this spring to help build skateparks in the 16 communities the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation serves in southeast Michigan and western New York.
Will a return to skateboarding be your humble writer’s midlife crisis? Stay tuned.