Enthusiasts push for permanent skate park in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Skaters are finding their way to the temporary skate park that's open through July in Winston-Salem.

When doors open at 2 p.m. every day there are always a handful of skateboarders there to take advantage of the space.

"I'm coming down here a lot because I really like to skateboard and it’s a really good place to skate," said Gabe Franco, 12, who has been a regular visitor since the Winston-Salem fairgrounds opened to skaters last Friday.

By dinner time, the Education Building on the Winston-Salem fairgrounds on West 27th Street sees its best crowd of the day.

That's encouraging for skateboard enthusiasts, who said they've been trying to get the city of Winston-Salem to invest in a public skate park for more than 10 years.

"The city hasn't felt like there's a need for kids to skate," said Colin Smoke, a manager at Exodus Skate Shop.

He and others are trying to encourage heavy use at the park to help convince the city to spend money on a permanent skate park.

"It’s just a safe place for people to go, especially for little kids. Parents aren't just going to drop their kids off at some street spot and skate all day," said Smoke.

The site at the fairgrounds is used for other events so leaving the ramps there is not an option.

The city said it is paying close attention to attendance.

"We've gotten a lot of interest from middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults regarding a skate park and I'm glad we're at the point of having a serious conversation about the future of a skate park here in Winston-Salem," said Tim Grant, director of Parks and Recreation for Winston-Salem.

Grant said if the numbers are strong enough the city will begin talks regarding a permanent skate park though money is not in the budget for that yet.

There are many factors to consider including location and features.

"We really need to have a good conversation about what is needed here? Because if you build something too advanced you lose the beginners. If you build something for the beginners then their skill level gets developed then where to they go?" asked Grant.

Smoke agrees and hopes the city is willing to build something substantial instead of moving ramps into an already established park.

"It's good for temporary use but for something permanent we'd probably need something concrete or something that would last a little longer," said Smoke.

The city of Winston-Salem spent $75,000 on the temporary skate park this summer that runs through Aug. 1. Grant said a permanent skate park could cost between $100,000 and $500,000.

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