New Skate Parks Coming to West Philly

At the X-Games in 1999, Tony Hawk landed what history now documents as the first successful 900—two-and-a-half full rotations—after 10 failed attempts. The message? Keep goin’, kid.

Kids (well, any capable person) in West Philly will soon have a chance to practice their aerial twists on skateboards thanks to a $100K grant from the Knight Foundation as part of the second Knights Arts Challenge Philadelphia, which awarded $2.76M this year for arts programs around the city.

The money will mean community engagement and a revitalization (yes, we love that word) of vacant or underused recreational facilities, according to Claire Laver, executive director of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund  (the folks behind the Paine’s Park skate park designed to be built in the shadow of the art museum, perhaps by next spring).

“I’m not sure where the creative process will lead us,” said Laver.

Before that, FPSF will host a series of open community meetings for individuals interested in contributing their opinion to where the four parks will exist and what they will look like. Laver said they’ll look to former recreational facilities where proper zoning already exists. Perhaps there’s a tennis court or roller hockey rink that are no longer in use that could be transformed into a vibrant, colorful skate park, she said.

Rendering of Granahan Skate Park

One location Laver will push for is Granahan Playground in Cobb’s Creek. That site has been on the drawing board for such a project for a few years, she explained. All four parks will include use of recycled materials (with help from Revolution Recovery) to create some of the artistic aspects and could include markers that instruct the way between the parks. After the community engagement process vets out locations, there will be a call for artists.

“We’ll have to see what the artists dream up,” said Laver.

We gotta say, this is one of the most innovative refreshing uses of underutilized already built park spaces we have come across yet. Very exciting stuff indeed.

–Lou Mancinelli