Atlanta, Georgia’s first public skatepark gets surprise visit on opening day.
6/16/11 (Vista, CA) – After more than a decade of promoting the idea of a free, public skatepark in Atlanta, Georgia, skaters there realized the fruits of their labor on Saturday with the opening of the city’s first public skatepark in the Historic Fourth Ward neighborhood. But the already jubilant atmosphere was further boosted by a message that morning from Tony Hawk, via his 2.4-million-Follower-strong Twitter feed, that he was coming to join the party.
The Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark was built as part of Atlanta’s BeltLine initiative, a citywide park development that will connect several neighborhoods along 22 miles of trails, walking paths, and other park amenities. The skatepark concept was added when BeltLine acquired land that skaters had been using as a makeshift skatepark for the past decade. Rather than evicting the skaters wholesale, BeltLine officials embraced their need for a place to skate and included it in the design for the park masterplan.
The unique public/private approach to funding this project, as well as the inclusion of the skaters in planning the skatepark, led the Tony Hawk Foundation Board Of Directors to award the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark its top grant award early last year.
“This park is a great example of what the Atlanta BeltLine is doing across Atlanta—bringing people together in amazing new public spaces that will serve us for generations to come,” said Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. President and CEO Brian Leary. “We’re extremely grateful that Tony Hawk recognized the work we have all put into this park by supporting it financially and participating in the grand opening with the community.”
The $25,000 THF grant paid for only a small part of the 18,000-square-foot skatepark, but the ambition and precedent this project represents wasn’t lost on Hawk, who wanted to see it for himself. Incidentally, of the 481 skatepark projects THF has helped fund since 2002, the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is the 400th to open.
“It was an honor to take part in Atlanta's skatepark opening, and I believe it will be a great addition to the BeltLine project,” said Hawk. “I hope the success and popularity of the park will inspire the city to provide additional, similar facilities for their youth.”
“Tony’s presence was a perfect addition to the event,” says Thomas Taylor, Owner of Atlanta’s Stratosphere Skateboards shop and longtime proponent of the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark. “As far as the skatepark itself, we weren't expecting something so awesome. As a skate community, we would like to thank Rob Brawner and everyone from the BeltLine Partnership for their dedication to this project. It was a perfect day!”
Skaters and BeltLine officials hope this just the first of several skateparks in Atlanta—all linked by skateable paths along the 22-mile-long BeltLine park. For the moment, though, the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is poised to serve the community well, and promises to attract many more visitors to the neighborhood. Based on the hundreds who showed up for the grand opening, it’s off to a great start.
The Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is located at 830 Willoughby Way Northeast, Atlanta, Georgia 30312.
A charitable, non-profit organization, the Tony Hawk Foundation was established in 2002 by its namesake, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, to promote and provide funds for high-quality public skateparks in low-income areas throughout the United States—with an emphasis on the word "quality." Since then, the Foundation has awarded $3,872,350 to 481 communities. The Foundation focuses on working with local officials and grassroots, community-based organizations that plan to hire designers and contractors with strong experience designing and building skateparks.
The Tony Hawk Foundation was established by a gift from Tony Hawk. Its directors raise additional funds through events, industry donations, and continuing contributions from Tony and other entities. In addition to skateparks, the Foundation also makes donations to other children-related charities, as chosen by its Board Of Directors. For more information or to make a donation, visit the Foundation's Web site at www.tonyhawkfoundation.org.