By Beth Christian Broschart
A headline in The Inter-Mountain in 2008 read, "If you build it, they will skate." Fueled by a desire to enjoy their sport, about 20 youths worked with adults in the Elkins community to help make their dream come true - a skatepark where youth could kick-flip their skateboards through the air and grind rails without the fear of being fined or having their boards confiscated.
Now the well-used skatepark, located in Glendale Park, is in need of some repairs, updates and additions.
The group that formed years ago, Youth Empowered Solutions is still going strong and looking for support from the city of Elkins, the Randolph County Commission and concerned residents as its members work to raise funds for the enhancements.
In April, members of YES, with adult sponsor Alice Sabatino, asked Elkins City Council for funding help for the additions and updates to the equipment in the skatepark. Mayor Van Broughton said he would refer the request to the council's Finance Committee.
The approximate cost for the updates is $2,500 for materials.
"Members of YES and their adult sponsors will use AmeriCorps volunteers to construct the new equipment for the skatepark," Broughton, who has long been a supporter of the park, said.
The group has a wish list of items for the park, leading with a mini-ramp that is 3 feet tall and 16 feet wide. Xtremeskater.com says mini ramps are mostly used for liptricks. This ramp is efficient for skateparks because the rider can execute many tricks and maneuvers and spend many minutes riding non-stop in such a small, finate space.
A funbox is another need at the skatepark. This consists of a box-shaped flat top, with ramps on two or more sides.
Other rhings on the group's list of must-have items are kickers, ledges, a manual pad, a tiered ledge and a 3-foot bank.
"I appreciate these kids," Broughton said. "They have taken ownership of this park because they helped raise the funds to help build the skatepark. They appreciate it because they had a hand in making it happen. And this is something they want to see expand and grow. They can hand this down to their children."
Broughton said the addition of restrooms and water at Glendale Park will only help the skatepark grow and expand.
"There are plans for several competitions this summer at the skatepark," Broughton said. "Kids come from other towns and communities to use our skatepark because it is so nice. We are very proud to have this kind of a facility where skaters have challenging equipment and where they can participate in their sport in a safe environment, far from the dangers of cars."
Elkins City Council passed an ordinance in the late 1990s making skating virtually illegal in Elkins, imposing fines and giving officers permission to confiscate skate boards. YES was formed after that to help youth come together to raise the funds for the skatepark.
"Changing the attitude toward skaters was the hardest thing back then," Sabatino said. "There was a persona that they were all bad kids, but they are just athletes trying to participate in their sport."
The group succeeded, and with help from many donors, the skatepark opened in August 2008, at a total cost of $129,000. Funding came from various donors, including Snowshoe Mountain Resort, which donated $19,500 worth of equipment; $5,000 from the Tony Hawk Foundation; $15,000 from the city of Elkins; $4,000 from the Randolph County Commission; and land from the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission. Fundraisers such as a poker run sponsored by Fudlees, many private donations and money collected in donation jars at Lynn's Service Station, Elkins Sunoco, Free Style Skateshop and Mama's Kitchen helped collect the balance.
Information about donations and the Elkins Skatepark is available online at randolphcountyyouth.org or on Facebook.