Memorial skate ramp under construction at Centennial Skate Park; grand opening coming soon

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

A team of builders works on the vertical skate ramp that will soon open in Centennial Park. The ramp, pictured Friday, March 31, 2023, is a memorial to Corey Lawrence, a skater who died in 2021.

A big new addition is under construction at Centennial Skate Park this week: a $50,000 vertical ramp dedicated to the memory of a beloved Kansas City-area skater.

As the Journal-World reported in March 2022, a group of local skaters and business owners launched a fundraising campaign to bring a public vert ramp to Lawrence in honor of their friend, Corey Lawrence, who died in 2021 after being injured in a fall while skating. That campaign was a success, and Lawrence will soon be one of the few locations in the Midwest where skaters can find a publicly available ramp of this kind.

Work to build the ramp started Wednesday, River Rat Print and Skate owner Justin Shiney told the Journal-World. As of Thursday morning, the base pieces of the ramp and its frame were still being installed, but Shiney said it should be looking more vertical before long; if the weather stays clear, constructing the ramp should take about a week.

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

River Rat Print and Skate owner Justin Shiney, right, looks on as workers lay the foundations of the new vertical ramp being installed this week at Centennial Skate Park. Shiney and a group of other local skaters and business owners led a successful fundraising campaign for the ramp last year, intended to honor their late friend, Corey Lawrence.

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

A worker tightens a piece of the vert ramp’s metal frame.

That means skaters could be breaking it in by next weekend, and Shiney hopes to be one of the first to drop in.

“I’m just ecstatic,” Shiney said. “I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I’m just really excited to ride it.”

Shiney said Saturday, April 22, the day after Corey Lawrence’s birthday, has been designated as the “grand opening” date for the ramp, and Lawrence’s family plans to travel from Kansas City to attend. Between now and then, he said the group would be spreading the word and bringing plenty of folks out to celebrate.

As the Journal-World reported, the 11.5-foot-tall and more than 30-foot-wide ramp comes to Lawrence courtesy of G.Ramps, a company in Germany that builds vert ramps for competitions like the X-Games. Builders with the company actually traveled to the U.S. and are constructing the ramp in Lawrence. Shiney said they’ll be heading to California next to install a ramp at Camp Woodward, a sleep-away camp geared toward gymnasts, cheerleaders and action sports athletes.

photo by: Courtesy of Justin Shiney

Schematics detail what the ramp will look like once it’s built. Workers with G.Ramps, a German company that builds similar ramps for the X-Games, traveled from overseas to help install the project at Lawrence’s Centennial Skate Park this week.

Most of the work since the fundraiser wrapped up last year has actually involved dealing with shipping, Shiney said. The company didn’t have much of an issue procuring the ramp’s steel framing, but prices doubled for its usual plywood supplier last year and it was forced to source the wood out of Latvia, which was then shipped to Germany to be sent abroad.

“Just trying to find the wood pushed us back quite a few weeks on that,” Shiney said. “… We ended up getting all the stuff here in December, but then at that point, (the G.Ramps) guys wanted to wait until it warmed up to come work on it. They had some other projects in the states that they’re doing this spring anyway, so it’s worked out good.”

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

A team of builders works on the vertical skate ramp that will soon open in Centennial Park. The ramp, pictured Friday, March 31, 2023, is a memorial to Corey Lawrence, a skater who died in 2021.

The site at Centennial Park has been ready for the ramp for a while, thanks to the fundraising group’s collaboration with the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department. The city laid the concrete foundation for the ramp, and Shiney said Parks and Rec plans to station some picnic tables nearby once construction is complete. Beyond that, Shiney said the only other finishing touch would be installing the memorial bricks offered as a fundraising perk.

Shiney said he doesn’t want anyone tagging the ramp with graffiti. The wood used to build it can’t be painted, so it would be burdensome to clean it off. And, of course, he strongly encouraged anyone who wants to ride the ramp to strap on a helmet and knee pads first.

“It’s here for everybody — come use it,” Shiney said.

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

The new vertical ramp, shown Friday, March 31, 2023, in background, is being constructed just north of the existing skating area in Centennial Park.

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

Artwork on the skating park fence is pictured Friday, March 31, 2023, at Centennial Park.


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