When Jonathan Husband started skateboarding, he nailed his sister’s roller skates to a piece of plywood. Years later, Ben Jones took to the street and parking lots to skate with images of Tony Hawk gliding through his head.
As adults, Husband, engineering and environmental services manager for New Castle County, and Jones, co-owner of Kinetic Skateboarding in Wilmington, have worked together, with others, to bring skateboarding facilities to parks in Delaware.
Now, skaters have the first “regional skateboarding facility” in New Castle County to practice and hone gravity-defying tricks on the concrete bowls or just to take passes on plaza features.
Glasgow Skate Park
DFM News visits the Glasgow Skate Park to see what skaters think of the new park.
The skatepark at Glasgow Park on Route 40 in Newark cost $768,000 to construct, and opened in March. Since then it’s attracted skaters locally, as well as from downstate Delaware and Baltimore, Md.
Husband, who handles all of the planning and design for county parks, said there has been a need for a skateboarding facility and the planning for the one in Glasgow started more than 10 years ago.
In recent years, private and public skateparks have opened throughout Delaware, with a heavy concentration in New Castle County. Local parks are free for skaters, but the private ones charge yearly registrations or per session, or both.
Anthony Hydro of Dover and Eric Zapata of Camden drive up to the Glasgow Skatepark most mornings and spend hours skating with friends.
“We drive 48 miles to get here,” Hydro said. “It’s a good place to skate and where we live we don’t even have a skate shop.”
Zapata said skaters still seem to have a bad reputation and get chased out of parks that aren’t dedicated for skateboarding, but they hope to see that change.
But not all skaters can drive to a park, which is why the idea of the “skate spots,” smaller dedicated areas for skateboarding, is gaining steam.
Jones has been on as many planning committees as possible to get skateparks in Delaware, as has Tyler Jacobson, another local skateboarder and co-owner of Switch Skate & Snow in Newark.
“One of the things that came up during the process of selling the regional skate facilities was the skate spots,” Husband said. He said officials wanted to see how the Glasgow facility worked before approving more skate spots in New Castle County parks.
Most recently, the City of Newark approved four city skate spots at the price of $160,000 for the project. An anonymous private donor contributed $40,000, a grant is providing $80,000 and the city will fund the final $40,000.
“We’ve been pushing so hard to get a local skate park,” Jacobson said. “There are kids who are too young to drive themselves to Glasgow. We thought these small skate spots would solve that problem.” The skate spots in Newark will be about the size of a tennis court.
Jacobson said skateboarding has become a legacy sport, the same way children learn to play any other athletics.
“Those who were skating in the mid- to late-80s are now young parents,” he said. “Now those guys are getting back into it because their kids think it’s cool.
“As a retailer, we’ve seen 5-year-olds get skateboard setups and people in their 60’s get setups.”
In Wilmington, Jones has been working with another committee to make the Seventh Street Skate Spot another destination for local and traveling skaters. The $250,000 funding from City Council has come through and improvements are slated to be made to the spot that started in an all-but-abandoned parking lot that once led to a boat ramp.
“It’s been the best thing skateboarding-wise that I’ve ever been a part of. We’ve wanted a plaza-style skatepark in Wilmington for a very long time,” Jones said. While waiting on the funding, he said, “We were looking for something to do in the meantime where we could just build some things on a small scale so people would have something to skate. Until we started Seventh Street, people were going down there to fish and people were going down there for illegal activities. Skating has cleaned it up.”
With the completion of the Wilmington skate spot, the Newark locations and the continuing success of the Glasgow Skatepark, it seems Delaware could be on par with some of the best skateboarding locales in the country.
“I’d like to see at least three more regional facilities and skate spots throughout (New Castle County),” Husband said.
Jones often points out how many baseball, soccer and basketball facilities are built at local parks, but there are very few options for skateboarding, which is also a great way to keep kids out of trouble and physically active.
“I don’t think there needs to be less baseball fields; there needs to be more skateparks.
“For me, skating taught me self-confidence and independence. I learned how to build things (boards, ramps), how to find my way around the city,” he said. Celebrating Kinetic’s 10th anniversary in August, Jones added, “Obviously, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t skated.”