Keep the dream alive

Displaced by development

It always seemed a bit too good to be true. Birmingham, which embarassingly for a city its size has no proper central skate park, suddenly got a temporary version right across from Railroad Park in the 1500 block of First Avenue South when Railroad Park opened downtown (above). An almost-forgotten warehouse district was instantly brimming with green and people, and the skate park created a great synergy with its larger neighbor across the street. The balletic activity of the skate park was close enough to be visually compelling, but at just the right distance to not disturb people pic-nicking across the street in the grass. However, the writing was on the wall when the Birmingham Barons baseball team announced its intention to build a new downtown park in the area; the skate park has now been dismantled, awaiting imminent construction of a large baseball park at that location.

A path to success

Enter the A.Skate Foundation, a local non-profit that helps kids with autism through skateboarding. This nationally-recognized group, which holds clinics all over the country, just won a $50,000 grant for design of a new skate park in Birmingham, just a couple months after winning another equal grant for their clinics. This is probably the best opportunity to get an urban skate park built that we’ve had in a while.

Sculptural landscape, urban activity, kids–what’s not to like

Prototypes for the park are illustrated above (real design will start once a location has been selected; the designer is ASD). This is a no-brainer for the City–an opportunity to create a remarkable outdoor space, fulfill a true recreational need, and help kids with autism all at once. Talk about positive publicity. Birmingham should be jumping to identify property in the City Center or immediately adjacent neighborhoods. However, we hear that other metro cities are jumping quicker to assist the potential project. We’d love this park to be somewhere in the metro, period; we think a downtown location is ideal not only for the centrality to all populations, but for creating the best visibility for this very urban sport. We strongly encourage Birmingham to consider this worthy project.

Birmingham, make it happen

For anyone interested in donating to A. Skate’s mission, or who has ideas about possible locations for their new skate park, please contact them here. A skate park is part of any successful city’s urban fabric. Birmingham should be no exception.

[thanks to A.Skate and ASD for the renderings and photos of skate kids]

13 responses to “Keep the dream alive

  1. Your posts are awesome! I have always believed that Birmingham had immense potential. When I see places like Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, a spark of hope fills the dark place in my mind where visions of Downtown 1st Ave once filled. I am convinced that we will get there one day in total defiance of all the AL.COM naysayers!

  2. I know it’s probably a mute point but…….since (in my humble opinion) nothing in the Prize to the Future was really exciting, why not put a skate park there. The parking lot next to Railroad Park begs for something like this!

    • Objectively, it’s been hard to find someone whose enthusiasm for the winning entry of that contest comes close to matching the City’s collective enthusiasm for the contest/process itself. Whatever gets built there, a skate park component would be terrific for sure. Thanks.

  3. I was just about to ask about that. Are they moving forward with it, or was it all just a huge waste of time, money and resources?

    • My understanding is that they will move forward by requesting proposals based on the winning entry, but I’m not sure of the timing. Maybe someone else can illuminate this for us. Thanks.

  4. The emergence of the new downtown ballpark, which has taken so much concerted work by the city and others due to a tight timetable, prompted the Community Foundation to delay the next phase for the P2F site. Still moving, but slower for now.

  5. Interesting interview you linked that A.Skate did with Fox 6. It’s disappointing that they haven’t been able to locate property downtown, but encouraging that they’d like to build near Railroad Park. I wonder if they’d be able to partner with UAB or a private developer to secure space. Seems like a skate park would be a nice feature for students as well as the larger community.

  6. This is a very touching article and so interesting. I hope that all of us will not stop believing and dreaming.

  7. Correction: The design firm for the project and (water marked) renderings are from ASD Thanks for correcting.

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