The recent expansion of Seymour’s skate park is attracting more local youth and helping to put it on the map with skateboarding fans.
Workers recently finished constructing a quarter pipe, volcano feature and more square footage of concrete skating and biking surface on the park’s west end.
The new addition officially opened this past weekend, although kids and others were able to test it out some last week.
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After raising more than $30,000 to complete the second phase of the park, only one more phase of the original design is left, said Matt Nicholson, who has been involved in the project since it was envisioned two decades ago. Nicholson owns and operates a bicycle and skateboard shop in Seymour and is a member of the Seymour Skatepark Association.
He said the first phase of the park, which opened in late 2013 and cost around $120,000, got a lot of use last spring and summer but will get even more now with the added features. The park provides a safe location for youth to go to ride skateboards and BMX bikes instead of on private business property downtown, Nicholson said.
The second phase was made possible largely by a $20,000 grant from the Jackson County Visitor Center.
“We have to give a huge thanks to the visitor center because that money paid for over half of this phase,” he said. “Phase 1 was already attracting people from two hours away, so I think the visitor center saw the potential to truly make Seymour a destination for a specific group of people.”
With Louisville’s major skate park now closed because of interstate construction, Nicholson said more people will be looking for a place to skate.
“And we’re only an hour away,” he said. “We’ll never be as big as Louisville’s skate park, but we are going to be one of the premier skate parks in the state.”
Nicholson said Phase 2 was really about adding height to the park as a way for skaters to be able to better gain speed and connect tricks.
“We have three different heights of quarter pipe now and added a volcano that juts out different from the flat area,” he said.
The final phase will cost around $90,000 and will be the icing on the cake, Nicholson said. It will add features such as a three-quarter bowl, stair sets, handrails and a curved ledge for skaters to practice their tricks.
Fundraising plans are in the works, he said, with an event being planned for June 21.
Nicholson said this time around they are going to make more of an effort to find corporate sponsors.
When the third phase is complete, the skate park will be nearly 9,000 square feet in size and will have cost more than $250,000. The park has been funded through donations from businesses, organizations and individuals, along with money from the city’s parks department and grants.
Located in Shields Park, the skate park is named after Todd Schurman and Zach Grubb, two local teens who were killed in spring 2010 after the bike they were riding was hit by a vehicle. Both were skateboarding enthusiasts who had helped with fundraising efforts to build the park before they died.
Isaiah Gambrel, 18, of Seymour said he’s happy to see the Schurman and Grubb Memorial Skatepark grow, and he knows his friends would be, too.
“I absolutely love the expansion, more because it’s getting closer to getting finished, which means we have finished their dream,” he said.
Gambrel said with spring here and summer on the way the park will get a lot more use.
Living only three blocks away, he said, he tries to get over there as much as he can, both to skate and to make sure other kids are taking care of and respecting the park. He said he doesn’t want to see someone ruin what so many people worked so hard to get.
“Todd and Grubb would be so excited about what’s happened. They really wouldn’t believe we raised the money as a community and that the city allowed it,” he said. “But they’re definitely proud up in heaven.”
Gambrel said he is ready for Phase 3 to begin.
“I’m definitely glad we have made it this far, and I’m ready to continue with Phase 3,” he said. “It just goes to show nothing is impossible.”
Donations for the skate park can be made to the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department at City Hall, 301 N. Chestnut St. If donating by check, write “skate park” in the memo line.
B2 Bikes and Boards at 330 S. Chestnut St. is taking donations along with selling skate park items, including lanyards, T-shirts and bumper stickers, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the skate park.
Donation cans are set up at several businesses with all money donated going to the skate park.
A skate park fundraiser is being planned for June 21 at Shields Park.
For information, visit the Seymour Skatepark Association’s Facebook page.