The new Ypsilanti Township CommUNITY Skatepark has officially been open for less than a week, but Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission Deputy Director Meghan Bonfiglio says it's already "popping" with activity.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the skatepark on Sept. 16 and the park officially opened the following day. The effort to build the skatepark began in early 2018 with a Built to Play Skatepark Grant, funded jointly by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and The Skatepark Project (formerly the Tony Hawk Foundation).
"It was just a fabulous project to be a part of from the inception through grant writing, securing resources and a site, working with the community, and then opening it up," Bonfiglio says.
Bonfiglio says the Parks and Recreation Commission wanted to build something on the east side of the county, and Ypsilanti Township officials welcomed the project "with open arms," offering that the skatepark could be built at Community Center Park, 2000 E. Clark Rd. in Ypsi Township, at the corner of East Clark and Midway roads. After securing a grant and determining the site, the next step was to solicit community feedback in three workshop sessions held in 2018 and 2019. New Line Skateparks, the contractor who designed and constructed the skatepark, asked workshop attendees to sketch out their ideas and showed attendees design images, asking which they preferred.
"What you see in the park out there is a direct result of that feedback," Bonfiglio says, including the fact that the 9,000-square-foot park combines street-style skating and bowl skating features.
Bonfiglio says one of the most remarkable aspects of the project was the long list of partners, from the funders and the contractor to local skatepark advocates to the township offering a site and taking over ownership of the skatepark once it was built.
The parks and recreation department also worked with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner's Office to secure funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create a rain garden at the park to capture and conserve water. The project added native plants for pollinators and long-term shade as well. The Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority also cleaned up part of the site.
"It was really a joint effort, with everybody rolling in the same direction on it," Bonfiglio says.
Skateboards, bikes, and roller skates are all allowed on the surface, but no electric bikes, remote-controlled cars, or other electronic vehicles are permitted. The skatepark is open to the public from dawn to dusk daily.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Bryan Mitchell Photography.