Organizers and supporters of a skate park at Epworth United Methodist Church are closer to seeing its completion after breaking ground on the project July 7.
The park, in the church parking lot, is expected to be complete in about two weeks. The construction comes after the church and community met their $75,000 fundraising goal since starting last August.
“The community was outstanding,” said project organizer Susan Selph. “In a beach community, surfing and skating are part of the culture.”
Evergreen Skateparks, based in Portland, Ore., is building the concrete park designed by Jesse Clayton.
Clayton says he's worked on many skate parks and can tell the community is invested in this project. The excitement of people is almost overwhelming, he said.
Planned features include a half-pipe, rails, ledges and a pool bowl.
Epworth has hosted skate days once a year beginning in 2008, eventually offering two skate events annually. At the earlier skate days, local surf and skate shops gave away prizes, and on average, about 60 skaters from lower Delaware and Maryland came to skate. Recent skate days have attracted about 125 skaters, said Selph.
Thanks to the success of the events, a section of the parking lot was transformed into a skate park of borrowed and donated wooden ramps and rails, and in 2012 it was named Epworth UMC Skate Project.
Selph says she's seen skaters of all ages, from young kids to 40-year-old fathers.
“Rad” Chad Murr, 43, a supporter and regular at the park, says the wide range of ages is good.
“You pass the torch from generation to generation,” he says. “Skateboarding doesn't discriminate. It's in your blood.”
Murr added he is happy to have a park nearby, so he doesn't have to travel to Ocean City.
The Rev. Pat Loughlin, assistant pastor at Epworth, says at first some members of the congregation were worried about a skate park, fearing the bad rep associated with skate boarders. But she says most of the congregation was excited about having a park easily accessible to community skaters.
The park still needs donors and sponsors. To donate, make checks payable to Epworth United Methodist Church with “skate fund” in the memo line. For more information go to www.eumcrb.org/sk8.