Survey for Utica skate park gathers skaters’ design ideas

Linda D. Garrow

Everyone didn’t arrive all at once for the beginning of the discussion of new and improved skate parks for the city at the Parkway Recreation Center in Utica on April 29. 

People kept trickling in, in twos and threes, ranging in age and background. Couples, friends, parents with kids. Some brought their skateboards with them. Eventually, there were more than 30 people and a general shortage of places to sit. 

They were greeted by a modest setup — just a projector and portable screen — but the company represented was anything but. Spohn Ranch, a pioneer in skatepark construction, was represented by Jason Baldessari, in the company’s skateboard development. 

While Spohn Ranch builds municipal skateparks around the country, they’ve also built elements for the X-Games, Dew Tour and Red Bull. Founder Aaron Spohn built his first halfpipe in the backyard of the home he rented near Los Angeles International Airport, which became a stop-off point for pro athletes visiting the city. 

“The point is, if you guys can think it up, we can build it,” Baldessari said at the April 29 meeting. “It’s just a matter of how much budget it’s going to take up, will insurance be OK with it.”

How Utica’s skate park will be funded

The City of Utica has earmarked $1 million in construction costs for a new skate park in T.R. Proctor Park in East Utica, where the T-ball fields are located behind Sal Longo Field. Another $250,000 will be used to revitalize the existing Jason G. Waterman Skateboarding Facility at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Watson Place in West Utica, originally built by Spohn Ranch in the ‘90s.

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