Parks and Recreation Director LaReina Wheeler talks with attendees at the skate park community design meeting Aug. 29 at B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale.

Parks and Recreation Director LaReina Wheeler talks with attendees at the skate park community design meeting Aug. 29 at B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale.

Photo by Mike Koury

Community meeting discusses skate park design elements

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 4, 2018


FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale is moving forward with its skate park plans, and a meeting was called with community members to gather ideas on what the park could feature.

A large group of residents and skaters came to B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale on Wednesday, Aug. 29, to discuss with city officials and designers what design aspects could be featured in the skate park.

Brad Dahlhofer, a Ferndale resident who also owns B. Nektar with his wife, got involved with the skate park plans after the City Council previously approved prefabricated skating equipment to go in Wilson Park. 

He said he went to the City Council to get them to stop the prefabricated park plans and instead look at a concrete park, which is what the city is going with now.

“(Prefabricated) falls apart, first of all, and there’s all kinds of rough transitions from the concrete to the ramp, and so your wheels bump, and when your wheels bump, you don’t get really a good chance to set up for a trick,” he said. “Concrete’s real smooth, like butter.”

Dahlhofer, who helped write the Tony Hawk Foundation Built to Play Skate Park Grant application that secured the $250,000 matching grant funding, also is a skater himself. At the age of 41, he said he’d like to see design aspects that aren’t super difficult.

“We want to be able to make a park that’s as good for kids as it is for adults,” he said. “Something that people can learn on, but something that people also who’ve got a lot of experience can still go and have fun with.”

While the attendees were able to discuss their ideas, they also were given the chance to look at skate parks in Oakland County, as well as nearby Macomb and Wayne counties. Photos and information about the parks were put on poster boards, and people could put sticky notes on them that commented on aspects they liked or didn’t like about each park.

Oak Park resident Austin Johnson has skated at many of the parks that were featured. The 23-year-old skater said he’d personally like to see a skate park with a lot of street obstacles, like a street gap.

“A street gap is a street set with a ledge on the side of it, so you could gap the stair set to the ledge or maybe even a rail going down the street set,” he said.

“Even like a plaza-type style of a park, so it’s a lot of obstacles you can hit all at once,” he said.

While he said he likes skating vertical equipment, Johnson said he hopes to see something that’s attractive to him.

“I feel like Michigan lately has been trying to attract the youth and the older generations with trying to bring a lot more vert into it so everybody can do it, which is cool and all, but I want something that I can skate and enjoy all the time, and I don’t enjoy skating vert all the time,” he said.

While the meeting did not deal with where the skate park would be located, which some in the crowd had hoped to discuss, Dahlhofer said he’d like to see it at Geary Park, which is closest to his home.

“I don’t really have the perspective of a lot of other people, like the city and the Parks (and Recreation) Department, as to what the big master plan for all the parks are,” he said.

He also said he feels that Wilson Park was chosen earlier, not because it is an ideal location, but because it has an old basketball court onto which prefabricated equipment could be placed.

“Originally with the (prefabricated) park, they figured, ‘Well, we already have, like, a big concrete slab. We can refinish that,’” he said. “That made sense, but I don’t think that it’s necessarily the ideal place, but I’m not going to turn down any location for a skate park.”

There also is a survey online that will help the city select design elements and a location. The survey can be found on the Ferndale Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page.