While most Rappahannockers probably can’t tell the difference between a nosegrind and a darkslide, anyone who’s interested now has the opportunity to learn, with the unveiling of the county’s newest addition – a brand new skatepark.
That skateboard facility, now a part of Rappahannock County Park just outside Washington, is the result of a two-year project by Hume resident Aidan Gould, who began the project when he was 14 as part of his quest to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable within the Boy Scouting organization.
Gould, now 16, said he first heard about the need for a skate park from a member of his troop board, and was persuaded to start the project by Boy Scout Troop 36 committee chairman Walt Longyear.
Longyear said he was approached about a skatepark by Slate Mills farmer and author John Kiser, who is also donating the project’s $60,000 cost through the Greve Foundation, his family’s charitable foundation.
Kiser said he had been discussing the idea of a skatepark for several years before the Boy Scouts approached him wanting more information on the project’s doability.
Kiser said his thinking on the project was also influenced by the fact that he has a 10-year-old son. “I just think the young people in this county need something else to do,” Kiser said.
“I brought the idea to the Scouts and suggested it would make a good Eagle Scout project,” Longyear wrote in an email. “Aidan thought so too, and took it on.”
“All I had to do was organize it,” Gould said.
Gould, who admits, laughingly, that he’s not (yet) a skateboarder, contacted the American Ramp Company (ARC), a skatepark designer and provider, which developed several pre-fabricated plans based on the dimensions of the park.
Gould then showed ARC’s designs to several of his friends who are experienced skateboarders before submitting them to the county. “I wanted to get skaters’ feedback,” Gould explains.
“The designs ate up a lot of time,” admits Gould. “We just started really moving forward [with the park] in the last few months.”
Gould met with County Administrator John McCarthy and discussed his plans for the park before McCarthy brought the designs before the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors. The supervisors had some concerns with the original plans, Gould said, requiring him to make some adjustments before the project was approved in October 2012.
Gould admits that he originally envisioned that the skatepark would occupy the same space as the pre-existing blacktop slab in the park, but had to abandon that idea after he realized how sharply that blacktop dropped off into the ground, which could have caused injuries and represented an unnecessary risk.
McCarthy added that the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority, which administers the county’s only park, was concerned that putting the skatepark there would interfere with families who often rent the park’s pavilion for private functions. By placing the skatepark farther away, McCarthy said, the authority thought it could minimize potential noise distractions and allow everyone to enjoy the park.
Gould said the RCRFA also requested that the placement of the park’s ramps be moved, as their original locations would have blocked the view of patrolling sheriff’s deputies.
Additionally, McCarthy said, the park’s proximity to U.S. 211 makes it highly visible to newcomers trying to find it for the first time.
After realizing he’d need to develop a separate space for the park, Gould contacted Simose Concrete in Manassas to pour the $13,000 concrete pad for the park. That was successfully completed several weeks ago, paving the way for the ramp installations ($39,000) to begin.
The finished design offers a number of options for skateboarders to enjoy, and features two quarter pipes, a picnic table, grind rails, a funbox (a ramp and grind rail, fused together) and a jersey ramp.
“I had a limit of $60,000 for the park, and I just made it,” Gould said with a smile.
Gould said there were several requirements in the arduous task of becoming an Eagle Scout that he had to display when designing and developing the park, including investing at least 40 hours of work into the project and showing a sense of leadership, in addition to previously earning a required 21 merit badges.
Gould’s hard work appears to be paying off, as the new park is already in use and has attracted an increased number of skaters, as well as positive remarks from the community.
“We’ve had a lot of really positive feedback on it already,” said Gould proudly. A grand opening of the park was originally scheduled for this Memorial Day weekend, but because some areas of the park are still under construction, the official opening is now scheduled for June 23.