Blythewood

Blythewood Skatepark Concept Plan

The Blythewood skatepark is a feature planned to go in as a part of the new park to be built outside the Blythewood town hall. Other features include an amphitheater, ballfields, a scale model of the original Blythewood railroad depot, and more.

This skatepark plan is not a final plan so don’t worry if it doesn’t have enough “street” elements or not. The purpose of this is to show people in the community what it will be like in the future when it is built. This plan shows that they’re serious, and they’ve listened to us. Consider this; we asked for an 8,000 square foot concrete skatepark and this plan they have 24,000 square feet, all concrete.

The goal is to bring in a professional skatepark designer who will incorporate the local skateboarders’ input into the final designs.

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Wheels rolling for skate park

Four years ago, Mason Rauch got hooked on skateboarding.

He soon connected with others who shared the same passion — all of whom just wanted a place to enjoy their sport.

But, like skateboarders around the Columbia area, Blythewood teens were finding themselves shooed out of parking lots and private property.

The nearest skate parks were nearly a half-hour’s drive from the Northeast Richland town — making them out of reach for many teens.

But things might be changing for Blythewood-area skateboarders.

In July 2006, teens Brian Gross, Matt Yarborough and Paul Watson talked to then-Mayor Pete Amoth about building a skate park in Blythewood.

Amoth told them to collect a petition of 150 signatures.

Within a month, they had 195.

This week, Blythewood council members had a work session to discuss a possible skate park, part of a larger town park plan.

A number of committee members and citizens voiced their concerns about noise and safety issues that a skate park could bring.

“Every time I’ve seen a skateboard facility, it doesn’t appear to have any honor students in there,” said Bob Mangone, a member of the architectural review committee.

“We don’t want a bunch of kids flying around on skateboards while other things are going on.”

Rauch, wearing a suit and tie, later addressed the audience of about 30.

“Skaters are a very diverse group,” he told the audience. “Some of them are honor students, they just want to skate.”

His group, he said, would like a free, public place where teens can skate with each other during the day.

Skaters, Rauch said, could be trusted to take care of the park.

Mayor Keith Bailey said that by not building a skate park, the town still would have to deal with teenagers skating where they shouldn’t.

“Do we want them here or do we want them all around Blythewood?” he said.

“I’d rather have them in a centralized location.”

Blythewood Town Councilman Ed Garrison said several members also support the idea. They could take a first vote on the proposal as early as next month.

Cost and design have not been determined.

Still, Garrison said, “I think we owe it to the teenagers in the community to address that need.”

Rauch, 16, today leads the Blythewood board of Pour It Now, a chapter of the Charleston-based organization that helps communities raise money for skate parks.

“Without a skate park,” he said, “Blythewood will be a skate park.

“That means that skateboarders will continue to skate where it’s unsafe and unwanted.”

In the meantime, Rauch said his group is working on getting a skate spot built as close to town as possible to use while they wait for a possible skate park in Blythewood.

The materials, he hopes, will be donated by companies in the Midlands.

In the meantime, Rauch said he tries to encourage his fellow skaters to be patient and respectful of business owners.

“I think the better we look — the more we defy the stereotype — the more skate parks we’ll be able to have.”

FULL STORY HERE

Reach Copeland at (803) 771-8485.

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