Thursday, February 9, 2023

Top designer agrees to create new skate parks

November 16, 2000

Two skate parks near East Lansing will be designed by one of the top designers in the field, despite the facilities not receiving funding from the city.

Ranney Park and Benjamin Davis Park in Lansing were picked for the projects - the parks border several East Lansing neighborhoods, and Ranney Park borders the Frandor Shopping Center.

The clear visibility, bathroom facilities and space were some of the deciding factors in determining the location of the skate parks, said Tim McCaffrey, director of East Lansing Parks and Recreation Facilities.

“There is a great interest among the youth in East Lansing and Lansing,” McCaffrey said. “In working with Lansing, our kids from both cities can skate in a safe and legal environment.”

Jason Ellickson, a 12-year-old Lansing resident and skater, said he hopes the parks will be built soon.

“It would be really cool if the city would build the parks, especially before spring time,” he said. “After school I could just go there with my friends instead of going in parking lots where we get yelled at.”

While East Lansing residents will use the parks, East Lansing will not donate any money to the parks, but help in other ways with maintenance and groundskeeping, East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Beth Schwarze said.

“Since the north end of the park will be more passive, park benches, picnic areas and landscape will be installed, and we may be involved with that area,” Schwarze said. “Since skateboarding was outlawed in the downtown area, these kids need a place to go that is safe.”

Lansing has worked out a program with the skating community where the city will match the funds raised by the community up to $200,000. The parks cost an estimated $500,000 combined.

Tim Payne, a world famous skate park designer who is responsible for the design of the ESPN X-Games, will design both of the parks, Jemerson said. Andy McDonald, a Lansing native and professional skateboarder, will also be involved in the project.

“There are a number of ways people recreate and skateboarding is just one of them,” said Murdock Jemerson, director of Parks and Recreation for Lansing. “It is part of our responsibility as a city to look after the leisure needs of the community and to address them. We are positive about the whole effort.”

Members of the skating community have been trying to build the parks for the past eight years. George Leichtweis, owner of Modern Skate and Surf, 1393 E. Grand River Ave., said the park will provide anyone who wants to use the park with some type of fun activity, not just skaters.

“It won’t be just for kids and skaters, but for those who want to relax, run, walk or picnic,” the business man of 21 years said. “If you provide people, especially kids, with a fun and safe place to skate, it can be a positive thing for them and their families.”

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