PARKERSBURG - More than 100 people attended the grand opening Thursday of Fort Neal Skate Park, a state-of-the art facility several years in the making.
Dozens of skateboarders, community members and city and county officials gathered at the 10,000-square-foot park, next to the Elite Center off Camden Avenue.
The $300,000 project was designed by Grindline Skateparks Inc., with the help of community members and skateboarders who are members of the Parkersburg Skate Plaza Foundation.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell, along with local officials and skateboarders, opens Fort Neal Skate Pa
Chad Mildren, chairman of the Downtown Taskforce's Skate Park Committee, said he was extremely pleased with the final product.
"It took three years to build this, and it's a wonderful park," he said. "It's just hopping with kids here. Before, they really didn't have a legal place to skate. This is a huge benefit to the community."
The park features a large clover-shaped bowl with depths of six, eight and ten feet to accommodate skaters of all skill levels.
Photo by Natalee Seely
Skateboarder James Johnson, 23, of Parkersburg grinds on a rail during the grand opening of Fort Neal Skate Park.
The second half of the park is the street section, with stairs, rails, ledges, inclines and a quarter pipe ramp.
"The kids helped design this park at a series of public meetings with Grindline," said Mildren. "They really wanted a bigger bowl, and that's what they got."
Kenny George, 47, of Parkersburg has been skateboarding since the age of 8.
Born To Skate
The grand opening of the 10,000-square-foot Fort Neal Skate Park, next to the Elite Center, was held Thursday.
The $300,000 project features a clover-shaped bowl and street section with inclines, ledges, rails, stairs and a quarter pipe.
The park was designed, using input from community members, by Grindline Skateparks Inc.
"They couldn't have done a better job. Grindline is one of the best skate park companies in the country; the park is phenomenal," said George. "The clover bowl is one-of-a-kind. People will travel here from all over just to skate this bowl."
George said the park has a nice balance of features for beginner, intermediate and advanced skaters.
"There are some great curves and obstacles. The street section is good for the younger kids who are just learning, and then as they grow and progress, they can move over to the bowl," he said. "Even the bowl has different depths, so it's perfect to learn on."
George previously traveled to skate parks around the region, including Skatopia in Athens, Ohio.
"Finally, there's a skate park right in my backyard," he said.
Daniel Fluharty, 24, of Parkersburg has been skateboarding for nearly 10 years.
"I've been all over the country visiting skate parks. We've been waiting for one of our own for 10 years, and we finally got it," he said. "This is the best park I've seen in the state."
Funding for Fort Neal Skate Park was provided by public and private donors, including the state of West Virginia, the Wood County Commission, the city of Parkersburg, Camden Clark Medical Center, Tri-State Roofing, United Bank, Highmark West Virginia, area foundation grants, and individual contributions, including Mary Riccobene. National skate foundation grants were used.
Mildren credited state Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, with securing the seed money for the project.
During the grand opening Thursday, officials gave away six helmets donated to the park by the Tony Hawk Foundation.