Supporters of an outdoor skate park in Rochester filled City Hall June 12 to urge the City Council to support a grant application needed to secure funding for the project.

Supporters of an outdoor skate park in Rochester filled City Hall June 12 to urge the City Council to support a grant application needed to secure funding for the project.

Photo by Ivette Gerstenschlager

Rochester skates forward with plans for outdoor skate park

City Council unanimously agrees to seek grant funding for much smaller project

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 21, 2023


ROCHESTER — Community members of all ages showed up in droves to rally behind a grassroots effort to build Rochester’s first outdoor skate park.

The Greater Rochester Skate Park Leadership Advisory Team, or SPLAT, has been working on the plans for the skate park since 2014, following the closing of the former indoor South Street Skatepark.

The group’s leadership team — which includes former Rochester Mayor Cathy Daldin, South Street Skateshop owners Von and Linda Gallaher, and local residents Annalee Paul and Emily Muhlenbeck — initially proposed a 22,000-square-foot, $800,000 skate park at Scott Street Park, 580 Woodward, that failed to get grant funding.

The group has since scaled down its plans in the hopes of securing a Spark grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The new proposed plans maintain the current baseball diamond and basketball courts at Scott Street Park, while adding in a much smaller, aboveground “plaza-style” skate park.

On June 12, SPLAT leaders, along with many others in the skateboarding community, filled Rochester City Hall to ask the City Council to support a grant application needed to secure funding for the project.

Paul, part of the original SPLAT committee, teared up while urging council to give skateboarders a place of their own, where she said they can thrive.

“These kids, we have nothing for them. … I think this is a very unique community, and I think these kids deserve this, to help them not only physically, but more importantly, mentally, because it does provide a strong commitment, as well as the understanding that ‘I can do this,’ so it gives them that power,” she said.

After pulling the microphone down so he didn’t have to stand on his tiptoes, youngster Lucas Litwin, of Rochester Hills, also urged the council to support a public skate park.

“I think we need a skate park because, where I live, we don’t have sidewalks where we can ride our skateboards, and, if we go in the streets, cars can come by and we can probably get hit and get injured,” he told council.

Nick Cobb, who owns a skate shop called “BRUH,” at 222 S. Main St. in Rochester, said skateboarding provides a sense of community and belonging for many in the area.

“It’s such a good way to bring people together,” he said. “No matter what’s going on in life, no matter what’s going on in school, it’s something that people can just enjoy and grow together and get better at.”

He argued that skateboarders need a designated place to enjoy their craft.

“No matter what rule we have for the city, people are going to skate — you can’t stop it,” he said. “Right now, we get in trouble here and there because we’re skating in places we shouldn’t be. The problem is, there’s no designated spot to skate. … So, to be honest, we really need a skate park, a place for them to go.”

The Rochester City Council unanimously agreed to direct the city to move forward with applying for the DNR Spark grant that would, if awarded, assist in funding a Rochester skate park project.

Councilwoman Marilyn Trent said an outdoor skate park would be a wonderful addition to the city’s parks.

“It’s going to be safer, and that’s what we want for our kids and our community. The concept of building community is what Rochester is all about, and I really, really am quite moved,” Trent said, following public comment.

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Salvia said the comments from the large crowd proved skateboarding is part of the culture of Rochester.

“We want you in Rochester, all of you, we want you to skateboard in Rochester in a safe place,” she said.

Still, she wanted to make one thing clear.

“I completely support this but … the city doesn’t have a pile of money sitting aside to do this project. We need the DNR to fund this. That’s why we are making this resolution, so we can get grant money from the Department of Natural Resources, because we need this grant money to make this project happen.”

Daldin said she really appreciates that the council passed the resolution.

“We’ve been working a long time on this, and it means a lot to our community and means a lot to me,” she said.

SPLAT plans to hold its own kickoff fundraiser, Thrash Bash, 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, at the Rochester Community House.

For more information on the project or to donate, visit or email