City paying for new lights, shading, drainage and more for Hampden skatepark at Roosevelt Park

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Courtesy Ian Supra and Konrad Crispino

Soon, the sun will not dictate when skaters have to call it quits for the day at the Skatepark of Baltimore.

The city’s spending board this morning unanimously approved a transfer of $265,470 in funds to pay for new construction at the skatepark at the northern edge of Hampden’s Roosevelt Park. The money will be used to pay Randallstown-based contractor DSM Properties, which won a bid for the project put out last month by the city.

The effort is more formally known as Phase III for the skatepark, which will include “sports lighting… shade structures, site furniture, tree planting, and improved drainage around the skatepark,” Recreation and Parks’ Chief of Capital Development Adam Boarman said in an email.

Boarman said $100,000 is coming from the Department of Planning’s INSPIRE program, which invests in areas immediately surrounding city schools to “improve quality of life for students, their families, and all neighborhood residents,” according to its website. Roosevelt Park sits feet from the public charter Academy for College and Career Exploration, currently undergoing renovations.

The rest of the funding is coming from Recreation and Parks’ capital budget, Boarman said.

The skatepark at Roosevelt Park has evolved after years of planning, fundraising and other efforts spearheaded by the same-titled nonprofit, Skatepark of Baltimore, Inc. Phase I, which cost $210,000, consisted mainly of deep bowls for vert skaters as well as a few ledges, and opened in 2014. Phase II, a creatively designed and widely used plaza geared toward street skaters, was completed in December 2016, and cost $465,000. Both phases were paid for with a mix of private, city and state funds.

Stephanie Murdock, the nonprofit’s founder and board president, told Baltimore Fishbowl the lighting plan has been in the works since 2015, when Johns Hopkins University awarded a $15,000 neighborhood grant to the Skatepark of Baltimore. After working with staff from city agencies to find a contractor, Murdock said the estimates they received were closer to $100,000.

So, she went back to Hopkins–“with the blessing” of Recreation and Parks staff–and asked if they could instead use the grant to draw up a detailed plan to put other comfort amenities into the skatepark, to be paid for with other funds later on. The university agreed.

The expanded skatepark’s crowd has bloomed while awaiting those changes, with hundreds of skaters coming by on a given good-weather day. The lighting and other additions—”the icing on the cake,” Murdock called them—should help to better serve the youth who frequent the facility, “and really open up the park to more users and add an element of safety.”

“A lot of these students are going over to Roosevelt Park after school and there’s nowhere to sit, there’s no trash cans, it’s super hot, there’s no shade,” she said.

Murdock said Tuesday that she hopes to see contractors out installing the lighting, furniture and other changes in six to eight weeks. New murals are also in the works, she said.

The skatepark advocates said she would eventually love to see the facility get some dedicated bathrooms, and maybe even a live feed for skaters to check on the crowds and conditions before they travel to Hampden. Porta-potties are situated along the entrance, but they “go south very quickly,” and the abutting Roosevelt Recreation Center oftentimes is not open on weekends, she said.

Her broader vision for the park is to “really make sure that it’s inviting to not just the users themselves but members of the community,” and that neighbors and families “can come and relax and enjoy watching.”

This story has been clarified to reflect that Hopkins agreed to repurpose its initial grant for the Skatepark of Baltimore to design planned amenities.

Ethan McLeod
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