By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A decade after Philadelphia closed “Love Park” (JFK Plaza) in center city to skateboarders, a new skatepark — designed to be more than a skatepark — is now being built near the art museum.
“Skateboarding is an art form, a way of life, and a very important part of Philadelphia’s culture and creative economy,” says Claire Laver, executive director of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund (FPSF).
The organization has spent the past ten years trying to raise money and gain city and state support for a public space (dubbed Paine’s Park) where skateboarders can practice their art and other events can take place.
Josh Nims, founder of FPSF, was emotional as he spoke to dozens of supporters and local officials on hand for the official groundbreaking of Paine’s Park, located in the parkland known as Schuylkill Banks, adjacent to the Park Towne Place apartment buildings.
“Twelve years of politicians and bureaucrats, skateboarders, and everyone in between have been part of this effort,” Nims said today. “It makes you feel great to see them all here together at once. It’s a true culmination of a group effort.”
Instead of shovels, skateboards were used to break ground on the park, which is set to open in the spring.
“It is designed to be a fun place to skate. It will be an attractive and useful pedestrian connection between the Schuylkill Banks and Eakins Oval, a venue for concerts and movies, and a gathering place that is infused with the vitality and creativity of Philadelphia’s youth of all ages,” Nims said.
Nims and others on hand have high hopes for the project, saying the eyes of the skating world will be on Philadelphia. They are hoping, down the road, that Paine’s Park becomes a site for a national skating competition.