Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) Executive Director Tom O'Rourke announced last week that his organization is going ahead with its plan to install a state-of-the-art skateboarding park at the base of the Ravenel Bridge in downtown Charleston. The plan for the new park has been on hold for the better part of two years, with Federal Highway Administration (FHA) officials, as well as those from the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) blocking the project for lack of a concrete design. FHA and SCDOT officials have said they need a design before they can approve any construction within the public right of way, where the proposed skatepark is to be located. Conversely, officials from the county parks were hesitant to spend the $60,000 on a design until the location could be approved by the SCDOT. However, last week, the Parks and Rec Commission changed its mind.
"We are going to make our move and not wait on the DOT," O'Rourke says. "We are going to spend the money and do all we can to make this as public a process as possible and lean on Mayor Riley to help us with the DOT." O'Rourke says that the request-for-proposal process for the project would be opened up to design and build firms over the next 30 days.
In March 2010, the county parks department approved a $2 million plan for the skatepark that called for the creation of one of the largest facilities on the East Coast.
For Shannon Smith, president of the the skateboarding activist group Pour it Now, the time has come to get the project started. "There's no way I'm going to have my daughter grow up in place where there's not a skatepark," Smith says. "When we'd go to other skateparks, you'd see these girls riding around. They're very independent, they're doing their own tricks, and they're full of self confidence."