During the last six months, local businesses and individuals have donated more than $66,000 to build a concrete skate park on the grounds of Epworth United Methodist Church on Holland Glade Road in Rehoboth Beach.
“We have been overjoyed and humbled by the community’s response,” said Skate Project member Susan Selph. “We appreciate every donation, large and small.” Locally owned businesses have donated more than $22,000 and have hosted numerous fundraising events, and $7,000 have come from local foundations. Sussex County Council members donated $1,500. The balance of the donations has come from individuals and fundraising events organized by Skate Project members.
The Skate Project’s original goal of $50,000 was increased to $75,000 with the addition of new elements to the park. “Fundraising was going so well that we reached a little higher,” said Skate Project member Tricia Ratner. “The community seems to want this so much, we decided to do as much as we could.”
Epworth’s Board of Trustees granted permission in July 2013 for Epworth UMC Skate Project, a group composed of skateboarders and supporters, to raise funds and build a skate park at Epworth.
“Our local governments have turned down the youth of our communities every time they asked for a skate park. We have numerous playgrounds and zero skate parks. Epworth should be applauded loudly for seeing the need, and for opening their doors. We would not have been able to raise the money if there weren’t a location for the park. There would be no skate park without Epworth,” said Selph.
In a letter to Epworth’s congregation, Board of Trustees President Chet Sprague explains, “The skate park has been a wonderful outreach program to the young people in our community. It is a demonstration of Christian love with no strings attached. The trustees strongly support this program and the message it delivers.” Wooden skate ramps have existed in the parking lot at Epworth since 2008 when the first Skate Day was hosted there. Skate Days are community events that are open to the public and free of charge. The four-hour events draw between 60 and 80 skateboarders from all over Sussex County and parts of Maryland.
The new skate park at Epworth will be the first concrete skate park in Sussex County. New Castle County built an 18,500-square-foot skate park at Glasgow Park in 2012. The town of Newark has recently added two skate spots within city limits. A skate spot is a small skate park, usually under 2,000 square feet. Currently the closest skate park to the Rehoboth-Lewes area is Ocean Bowl in Ocean City, Md.
Construction of the skate park at Epworth is scheduled to begin this winter and should take about eight weeks to complete. The Skate Project is working with Jesse Clayton, owner of 5th Pocket Design, to design and build the park. Fifth Pocket strives to fill the gap between cheaper prefab parks and large-scale concrete parks. The company’s goal is to be affordable without sacrificing quality or creativity in design. Clayton, an avid skateboarder, started building parks in 2008. His list of credits includes a number of public and private parks in the Philadelphia area including Pop’s Park, Ambler, Gray’s Ferry, and Whitehall. Clayton also did some work at 7th Street Park in Wilmington.
Local skateboarder Alex Scott is familiar with Clayton’s work. “I’ve skated most of Jesse’s parks. They are all original, well-constructed, and fun to skate,” said Scott.
The Skate Project is still seeking sponsors and is currently selling engraved bricks that will be placed in the park. The cost of a brick is $150. For more information about the Skate Project, sponsorships, and brick sales, go to www.eumcrb.org/sk8 or contact Susan Selph at 302-245-6193.