Nine months since the concept of a concrete skate park at Epworth United Methodist Church was presented, Epworth UMC Skate Project is announcing a contract for park construction.
“After gaining the approval of Epworth’s Board of Trustees, there was a whirlwind of community support. It’s obvious that there are a lot of people in this area who have wanted a skate park for a long time,” said Susan Selph, one of the project organizers.
Enthusiastic public support spurred the expansion of the original park concept and an increase in the fundraising goal. Jesse Clayton, owner of Fifth Pocket Inc. and designer of Epworth’s park, says he’s never seen a group raise money so quickly.
“Most groups struggle for years to get as far as Epworth did in six months,” said Clayton. While the contract was accepted by Epworth’s Board of Trustees, all the funding for the park has come from the community, not from the church. “Epworth’s contribution was giving us a home,” said Selph, “something that our local municipalities refused to do.”
The Skate Project moved rapidly forward beginning in August but hit some bumps in the road. “The funding was going really well, but then we had some timing issues with contractors. Once those were sorted out, the weather became a problem,” said Selph. The original goal of fall construction was delayed.
“It ended up being fortunate that we didn’t get started in the fall,” said Clayton. “The extended frigid temps we had this winter would not have been an ideal situation for the concrete.”
Through Clayton, the Skate Project had the opportunity to bring in Evergreen Skateparks to construct the park. Evergreen, based in Portland, Ore., is a full-service skate park builder.
“It made sense to take advantage of this relationship. Evergreen brings with them a large team of highly skilled individuals,” said Selph. Evergreen, owned by avid skateboarders Billy and Catherine Coulon, has been building skate parks all over the world, including a 29,000-square-foot park in Modiin, Israel.
Evergreen is currently building a park in Milliken, Colo., and will build another in Michigan before coming to Rehoboth in July. They estimate construction will take four weeks. “All things considered,” said Selph, “that will mean that we did the entire project, from fundraising to completion of the park, in a year. I think that is something that this community can be proud of.”
The Skate Project is still in need of financial support. About $5,000 more should cover construction and related costs. “The community has been so generous, but we are hoping that some more donors will come forward to help us get to our final goal,” said Selph.
Once the park is built, it will be free and open to the public. It will not be restricted or fenced. It will be a “use at your own risk” park. Located just off the Junction & Breakwater Trail, the park will be able to be accessed on foot or by bicycle from Lewes.
People who use the current skate area at Epworth range in age from 6 to 40. When Epworth started hosting skating events in 2008, most of the skaters were between 13 and 16 years old. Now events find the number of skaters under 18 and over 18 almost evenly split. Many more families and college students are using the skate area at Epworth. Another trend is fathers teaching their sons or daughters to skate. Younger kids are getting started, and older skaters are enjoying having a place to skate locally.
The Skate Project is selling engraved bricks to support construction costs. Bricks cost $150. Donors who give $500 or more will be recognized at the park with permanent plaques. For more details, visit www.eumcrb.org/sk8 or call Selph at 302-245-6193.
The next fundraiser will be at Nicola Pizza, 8 N. First St., 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, April 30. Diners should mention the Skate Project when placing the order and 15 percent of the sale will be donated to The Skate Project.