Newark skate spot unveiled

By Tom Lehman 1:29am, September 13, 2013 - Updated 1:36am, September 13, 2013
City Councilman Mark Morehead and Switch co-owner Tyler Jacobson discuss the new skate spot.
City officials unveiled a new skate spot in Handloff Park on Thursday, marking the completion of the first of two recreation areas designed for skateboarders in Newark.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports...

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The two skate spots, which are not considered to be parks because of their size and features, were created to give skateboarders a place to go in Newark that was safe and wouldn't be intrusive into city neighborhoods.

"We have a place now that they can go and enjoy specifically designed by the skaters and built for the skaters," said Charlie Emerson, who runs Newark's Parks and Recreation department.

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Emerson said the project to construct skate spot in Handloff and Phillips Parks cost about $180,000, much of which was financed through fundraising and donations. Among the largest donations was $40,000 from a donor whose identity was not disclosed by city officials.

The Phillips park skate spot is expected to open in October.

City councilman Mark Morehead said he and many area residents were initially skeptical having a skate spot in his district at first, but he grew to support the construction of one.

Morehead said the park was designed so that it wouldn't be intrusive to the surrounding neighborhood.

"The intent was to build it small so that it wouldn't become a national stop on the road trip and actually have something for the neighborhood kids to enjoy," Morehead said.

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He said city officials would like to see more skate parks constructed and encouraged those who are unsure about them to watch skateboarders interact at the Handloff park location.

The new skate spot received positive reviews from Newark skateboarders.

Matthew Wilson said the skate spot offered a much different experience than prior years and allowed for better interaction among skaters.

"If you're meeting up with your friends, basically you have a place where you can go and basically skate and don't have to worry about getting kicked out, or the cops, or tickets or anything," Wilson said.

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Tyler Jacobson, co-owner of Switch, a skateboarding shop on Main Street, served on the city's skate spot committee.

He's pleased that there's now a place where skateboarders can go without getting in trouble.

"It kinda put you in a hard place, because what you wanted to do for fun was essentially illegal," Jacobson said. "So to have a free, safe place for kids to skate kind of helps resolve that issue."

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