In September of 1999 the City of Columbia, in partnership with Richland County and the YMCA, unveiled a newly renovated Owens Field Park. The 68 acre regional park included soccer fields, baseball fields, a roller hockey rink and a skateboard park designed to draw skaters from a three state region featuring ramps and quarter-pipes.
Not even ten years later Owens Field Park is going through additional renovations. The City of Columbia, in partnership with Richland One, will unveil a new multi-million dollar Track and Field facility in the location occupied by Columbia’s public skatepark at Owens Field.
On October 18, 2006 Columbia City Council voted unanimously to approve a Map Amendment for 1351 Jim Hamilton Boulevard and 1100 South Holly Street which orients the track parallel to Airport Boulevard and south of the trees. The Columbia City Council noted the City should work with the School District and bear the responsibility for relocating the Skateboard Park in the same area. This move prevented Richland One from destroying an Urban Forest (their intended location) and yet displaced the skateboarders of Columbia, SC and surrounding areas.
At the same meeting Mr. Ryan Cockrell presented a petition with over 200 signatures requesting that the School District’s request be denied and that no one be allowed to disturb the skateboard park. Cockrell stated that the skateboarders would like to share their plans for the park with Council. Cockrell asked that the City work with the skateboarding community to construct a better skatepark. According to Cockrell the group would work to get donations to fund the project.
Columbia City Councilor Anne Sinclair said that the goal is to relocate the current park. She said that they might be able to work with staff to see if there is a way to ultimately make the park better. At this point the City’s goal was to use the existing ramps and move forward.
On December 2006 Mr. Ryan Cockrell of the Owens Field Skate Park Association, appeared before the members of Columbia City Council to present a new petition with over four hundred (400) signatures in support of a new concrete skatepark rather than the plan to relocate the existing ramps. Owens Field Skate Park Association’s goal is to gain approval and funding for a concrete skatepark to be built by a specialist. The total cost is estimated at $568,000. Cockrell presented pictures that showed the deteriorating condition of the existing ramps along with skate boarding statistics. Finally Owens Field Skate Park Association requested $300,000 from the city for an initial budget for the project.
Upon motion by Ms. Sinclair, seconded by Ms. Devine, Council voted unanimously to direct staff to work with Mr. Ryan Cockrell, the Owens Field Skate Park Association and others to determine what can be done, the concepts that can be used and a feasible funding level for the proposed renovations to the skate park.
A short time later the Owens Field Skate Park Association developed an awareness campaign known simply as POUR IT NOW.COM. The awareness campaign branded the effort with a simple message, “Pour the Concrete Now.” Additionally POUR IT NOW.COM by name implements a new website, POUR IT NOW.COM, as well as beginning a blitz of awareness through printing t-shirts, posters, banners and stickers. POUR IT NOW.COM gained the support of the Columbia South Carolina Parks and Recreation Foundation, Rosewood Community Council, Bluetile Skateboards, Nobyl Skateboards, Flatbottom Skateboards, Switch Magazine, and Blue Ion Web design.
With a long list of possible grants and an even longer list of fundraisers POUR IT NOW.COM continues to push forward with the idea of a new skatepark growing more likely every day.