Sunday is the five-year anniversary of the opening of the Wheeling Skatepark - a $330,000 project that came about after six years of fundraising.
The project was initiated by Wheeling resident Diana Mey and her son, Nathan, who asked City Council for help in creating a place to legally skate, as the city of Wheeling prohibited skateboarding on sidewalks and public venues. A committee was formed and the fundraising continued. Money was collected from individuals donors, a state grant and a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation.
Construction began on a piece of land donated by the city near the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex in Elm Grove. It took three months for skatepark builder Grindline of Seattle, Wash., to complete the 10,000-square-foot concrete park. A grand opening ceremony was held Oct. 21, 2007.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Michael Duley, 15, of Glen Dale skateboards at the Wheeling Skatepark on Friday evening. Sunday is the park’s fifth anniversary. Duley is the son of David and Rebecca Duley.
''It's held up pretty well for it being 5 years old,'' said Wheeling Public Works Director Russell Jebbia, who oversaw the original project.
Jebbia said since its opening additional street elements have been added to the park along with a picnic shelter. Local Boy Scouts donated the bleachers and a flag pole. A Web cam still operates today and allows Internet users to view the park live 24 hours a day at www.wheelingwv.gov/wheelingskatepark.
Jebbia said city workers maintain the facility and, for the most part, the park's users have respected it. Occasionally graffiti will appear and the workers will shut down the park and remove the spraypaint.
''It's hard to believe,'' Mey said of the anniversary, noting she is happy local children still use the park today along with those from outside the Ohio Valley. ''I'm grateful the city has maintained it as well as it has.''
Mey noted in the beginning there were ''naysayers'' who thought the park's design would be too advanced for local youth. But many children have seen the park's deep bowls as a welcome challenge, she said.
On Friday evening, Michael Duley, 15, of Glen Dale was skateboarding at the park with his parents, David and Rebecca, watching. Duley said he likes using the park because of its smooth surface, unlike the parking lots at home. He has been skateboarding for about five years. The couple noted they don't mind driving their son to Wheeling to skate, though they wished Marshall County had its own skatepark.
''It's a drive but he likes it,'' David Duley said.
''As long as he enjoys it, we'll take him,'' Rebecca Duley added.