Update starting in March at North Carolina’s oldest skatepark

Cassidy O’Neil [email protected], Arts & Features Writer

It’s the turn of the millennium. Y2K just passed, the Backstreet Boys are back, and Asheville just opened its first official skatepark. 

Since then a lot has changed but one thing that stuck is the concrete structure on Cherry Street. 

According to Asheville.com the park originally opened in 2000 and has averaged around fifty skaters, bikers and scooters per day.

Even though the traffic has been consistent the park’s upkeep has not. 

Originally the park was primarily sponsored by the grocery chain Food Lion until 2019 and officially renamed the Asheville Skatepark.

Although the park has remained consistent with skaters, no rules, business hours, and supervision has led to mass graffiti and vandalism.

“Since the skatepark closed in 2014 or ‘15 the cleanliness and general wellbeing of the skatepark has gone down considerably since then,” said UNC Asheville senior and skater Sergio Barbosa. 

After over 20 years without an update, during  the pandemic a community of regulars who inhabit the park took it upon themselves to add D.I.Y. structures (I.e. ramps, boxes and rails) to the blank upper section.

“It’s something new to skate. On top of that it feels different to skate something you built yourself. When you and your friends put your own time, money and sweat into a project, you build a community,” said local skater Rameriez Sanchez.

Six months into the D.I.Y. project, the city of Asheville began to remove all non-approved structures due to safety concerns. This would put an end to the creation of any new additions to the skatepark. 

Although it was the end of the community’s creations it proved to the city that there was a passionate group of individuals wanting change on Cherry Street. 

Soon came the idea to replace what the community scraped together with a professionally designed update of the  two decade old structure. 

A small group consisting of those passionate about the park, government representatives, and parks and recreation officials have been coordinating through Zoom meetings and email chains. 

“Following a year of discussions and planning, $200,000 in repairs and enhancements are coming to Asheville Skatepark,” said associate of Asheville Parks and Recreation, Christine Elyseev.

According to The City of Asheville, the addition of skateable bleachers, new fencing and improvements to the upper plaza and existing features will allow the skatepark to function as it’s always intended. 

The city hopes to provide a valuable community space for veteran skateboarders, skaters and bikers, as well as those who are just getting started in these sports.

The construction of the new section will be done by Artisan Skateparks from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and repairs to the existing park will be done by Asheville local Alex Irvine. 

The upper section will now introduce beginner level obstacles along with street inspired features, something specifically requested through public polling. 

“It’s going to bring a lot more people to the park and for the other people already skating here there will be a lot more smaller beginner types of obstacles that are low risk, high reward. What this park doesn’t have is a street or small transition so we’re getting that,” Rameriez said.

Thanks to a fresh repaint earlier this year and the park being regularly maintained by the Asheville Parks and Recreation Center, the graffiti and trash has slowly begun to become extinct and with construction starting next month the city is paying its respects to what many consider North Carolina’s oldest standing skate park.