$250,000 addition at Centennial Skate Park will build a plaza for street-style skateboarding

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

The southeast corner of Centennial Skate Park is set to be the site of a $250,000 addition this year, which will add a "street-style plaza" to the existing park at 600 Rockledge Road.

Big changes — up to $250,000 worth of them — will soon be underway at Centennial Skate Park.

Though it wasn’t the topic of any discussion at last Tuesday’s Lawrence City Commission meeting, city leaders granted approval to execute a contract with an Oregon contractor, Evergreen Skateparks, to design and install an addition to the existing skate park located at Centennial Park, 600 Rockledge Road. According to the request for proposals form included with Tuesday’s meeting materials, the project is set to be completed on or before Dec. 31.

According to that document, the city is looking to integrate a “street-style plaza” with the existing skate park elements, as well as add features to enhance the experience at the skate park. Street-style skateboarding involves performing tricks on obstacles that wouldn’t exclusively be found in a skate park, from benches and stairs to handrails and any other architecture a skater might find on a city street.

As for where the addition will be, the form notes that the preferred area is the long, fenceless deck of the existing quarter pipe located in the skate park’s southeast corner. That’s the rear portion of the existing skate park that currently is flat concrete, extending back to a piece of tall chain-link fencing.

photo by: City of Lawrence

This aerial view of Centennial Skate Park shows the area where a new addition is set to be installed before the end of 2023.

Evergreen Skateparks is a familiar partner to the city in this work — it’s the same contractor that completed the last big expansion at the skate park in 2021, adding about a dozen new features. The design of that project anticipated the future addition approved earlier this week, and it’s actually beating the estimate at the time by about three years. In 2021, this addition was scheduled for 2026 in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.

According to Evergreen Skateparks’ latest project proposal form, project manager Ben Hlavacek — who spoke with the Journal-World during the last expansion project back in 2021 — still resides within a half hour of Lawrence and has been in constant collaboration with the Lawrence Skaters Association since 2018, including consulting and volunteering for the community-built Edgewood skate park completed the same year in East Lawrence.

As part of the contract, the city expects the project to include community input, which “may include, but is not limited to, public meetings, on-site interactions with user groups, focus groups and surveys.” The contractor says Hlavacek’s familiarity makes that especially achievable.

“This puts Evergreen in a unique position to build on existing relationships to conduct community input and understand the wants and needs of the skate park users of Lawrence,” the request for proposals form reads.

A schedule included with the form lays out a more specific timeline for the work ahead. Design development and refinement, for example, is scheduled for summer and fall of 2023. The total construction process from there should take about five weeks in total, with specific steps in the construction process as targets from one week to another. For example, during the first week of construction, the timeline calls for installing construction fencing, completing a site survey, excavating and beginning plumbing installation.

The form included with Tuesday’s meeting materials doesn’t include a 3-D conceptual design or any other sort of mock-up, but the contractor notes that is one of the things it plans to provide for the project.

Judging from the contractor’s plans, making the new addition a safe place for people who aren’t skaters to come out and enjoy the spectacle will also be a point of emphasis. One section of the form pertains specifically to safe pedestrian walkways and viewing areas.

Evergreen Skateparks says it doesn’t want to “overlook the non-active user.” That all depends on making them feel comfortable sitting down, watching or walking by. The document notes that the final design will allow ample room for safe, unobstructed viewing and “unfettered access” around the entire area for people actively using the skate park, with existing pathways and other infrastructure set to be adjusted if needed.

“For us, the opportunity to design and build a public concrete skate park in a community is truly an honor,” the form from Evergreen Skateparks reads. “Our work is not only a business, it is also our lifelong passion.”

This will be the second big addition to Centennial Skate Park this year, after a group of local skaters successfully crowdfunded and installed a $50,000 vertical ramp at the opposite end of the skate park.

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