Editor's note: This article has been updated with more information from the meeting and pictures.
More than 50 supporters turned out to contribute their design ideas for the Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark on Thursday night at .
The design kickoff was the first in a series of meetings meant to spark collaboration between potential users and Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks Inc., the firm selected to design and construct the skatepark.
“Grindline came very highly recommended,” said Mary Pitcher, head of the effort to build the skatepark, which will be located near the corner of Banksville Road and Dormont Avenue. “We looked at some other options, but they were the only ones who do the design and the construction, and their other designs are beautiful.”
Micah Shapiro, the lead designer at Grindline, gave a short presentation showing off the firm’s previous work across the country, then got down to business on the specifics of skatepark design.
“We want to hear what the people of the community want in this park, what they think is necessary and what they can afford,” said Shapiro. “Really, it’s up to you.”
“We try to keep our designs cutting edge,” he said. “But we also don’t want to build something that’s a gimmick. We want something that’s going to be relevant ten or 15 years from now.”
Shapiro emphasized the need for structures appropriate for skaters of all skill sets, and made clear the park should be a welcoming environment.
“Ideally, the skatepark will be a place for skaters and non-skaters alike,” said Shapiro. “It should be a place that’s comfortable for everyone. If a mom wants to bring her young kids for a walk they could come down and just watch. After all, skateboarding is a great spectator sport.”
The community meeting was another step in Pitcher’s quest to see the construction of the park originally conceived as a memorial to her sons Stephen, 19, and Vincent, 21, who drowned during a camping trip at the Kinzua Reservior in 2008.
“Shortly after he passed, one of Stephen’s friends told me that his favorite memory of Stephen was watching him do a handstand down Dormont Avenue on his skateboard,” said Pitcher. “That’s when I knew that I had to do this, to give people something to get involved in and to help ease my pain.”
The Pitcher Park non-profit/public charity was awarded a $40,000 grant from the Ken & Carol Schultz Family Foundation which allowed them to hire Grindline.
Ken Schultz, formerly of Bridgeville, reached out to the skatepark project after initially hearing about the effort through the Tony Hawk Foundation, which previously awarded the group a $10,000 grant.
“This grant allows us to pay for a design and get a construction drawing,” said Pitcher. “At that point we’ll have something more to go off of, something to show people who might want to donate.”
Last year, the organization was given five years by Council to get funding and plans for the park in place.
“We’re confident this is going to go forward,” said Pitcher.