A Solid 180 

Memphis picks new location for first public skatepark.

Over the last few years, plans to create a public skatepark in Memphis have gone from nonexistent to certain and back again. Though the city first approved the project's $440,000 budget in 2008, conflict over the park's location has stalled the project. But last week, Memphis mayor A C Wharton's announcement that Tobey Park would become home to the skatepark allowed advocates to breathe a sigh of relief.

"I'm so happy that we've got a mayor who responds to the needs of the city's people," says Aaron Shafer, founder of SkateLife Memphis, the organization that led the charge for a skatepark. SkateLife's series of events and demonstrations has brought the skating community out in full force.

"Obviously, it's needed," says Matt Wright, founder and executive director of FaithSkate Ministry, which has set up temporary skating ramps in the parking lot of the Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett every other weekend for the last three years. Like Shafer, Wright is a longtime skateboarder who's worked to create opportunities for Memphis skaters.

"It even surprised me how much response there was," Wright says of the program's popularity, which grew from five to 35 kids in the first few months. "We weren't marketing it at all. It just shows you what a need there is for kids to skate here in Memphis."

Wharton emphasized the skatepark's potential for helping local youth be more physically fit, something Wright and Shafer have been saying for years.

"Other sports are celebrated by the community," Wright says. "You see hundreds of kids playing baseball in one place, but the skateboarding community is fragmented. There's nowhere to tell them to go."

Shafer says Tobey Park is a perfect location for what he hopes will be a community-wide attraction, especially in light of the nearby dog park and other proposed developments in the area.

"There's been a lot of interest from the non-skating community," he say. "We're interested in bringing people together from different parts of Memphis."

The enthusiasm shown by groups such as FaithSkate and the public has proven to Shafer that the park's programming can do just that.

Local firm Askew Hargraves Harcourt & Associates will partner with national skatepark designers Wormhoudt Incorporated to work on the park, and the UrbanArt Commission has been tapped for an on-site public art project.

"There's that cliche saying that it takes a village to raise a child," Shafer says. "I'd say the same for making a skatepark."


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Vulnerable Vista

      French Forters worry silos would obstruct river views.
    • Body cams, a dog park, and a hippo

      Cop complaints fall, city plans Mud Island dog park, and a hippo was born at the Memphis Zoo.
    • Raiford, Pence, and Power

      An icon passes, Pence punts, and politicians scrap on wind energy.


Beyond the Arc

Game 4: Grizzlies 110, Spurs 108: One For The Ages

Politics Beat Blog

Low Early Voting Totals for District 95

News Blog

State Officials Search for North Memphis Bear

News Blog

4/20 at Overton Park, Not Very Lit

Beyond the Arc

Game 3: Grizzlies 105, Spurs 94: Grindhouse Forever

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

T2 Trainspotting

News Blog

Update: Nary a Silo Will Tarnish Famous Vista

Hungry Memphis

How to Gumbo


More by Halley Johnson

  • Against the Grain

    The poised, surprising pop of Annie "St. Vincent" Clark
    • May 17, 2012
  • A World Apart

    For Filipino food, head to VGM.
    • May 10, 2012
  • Boxing Day

    Flyer Box Art contest: from newsstand to public art.
    • Mar 29, 2012
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation