It’s one thing to get the approval of the city to construct a skate park in downtown Morganton. But to get the approval of arguably the world’s greatest skater — now that’s something special.
The Morganton Parks and Recreation Department received a $15,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation on July 25 to help construct a skate park behind the Collett Street Recreation Center.
Andy Smith, the city’s risk management coordinator and self-described “last person who should want a skate park,” said he first applied for a grant in December. But the foundation said Morganton did not have enough plans and support in place.
The foundation was looking for more community involvement, Smith said. So when he applied again in June, Smith had documented Facebook shares, community meeting records and a final design.
“I was pretty excited and shocked when I got the phone call that we got the grant,” Smith said. “(The foundation) has been really helpful through this whole thing.”
Smith said the foundation reached out to give input on the design, which was shown to Tony Hawk, himself. Hawk had a few suggestions, which Smith said designers are considering.
Hawk suggested fixing an awkward slanted ramp, not knowing it was designed to look like Table Rock. Once he learned the history, he was all in, Smith said.
Rob Winkler, the recreation director, said about $180,000 already had been allocated from multiple groups to construct the park. But in order to fulfill the vision of their design, the extra $15,000 was needed.
“(The foundation) looks for areas that don’t have a park in a town that is diverse,” Winkler said. “They want their money in a place with community involvement. They want to make it happen, and it’s a great group to work with.”
Winkler said the project could have cost a lot more money, but he is fortunate to be able to use some of the city’s equipment.
The construction group, Artisan Skateparks, plans to begin working on the project Sept. 11, Winkler said. The project should last between 60 and 90 days.
Once the project is completed, Winkler said he hopes to have Tony Hawk or a representative from the foundation to visit for an opening ceremony.
“When you think of skateboarding, Tony Hawk is the name you think of,” Winkler said. “So this is an exciting time for Morganton, and I’m thrilled to be here.”
Ryan Wilusz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-432-8941.