Fairbanks Skatepark Coalition receives boost from legend Tony Hawk

Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 8:03 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Although iconic pro skater Tony Hawk is no longer shredding halfpipes, he is still cementing the same impact on the skateboard community as he did when he was the first person to stick a 900-degree aerial spin on a skateboard in 1999. The Skatepark Project, formally known as the Tony Hawk Foundation, has helped underserved communities create safe and inclusive public skateparks for nearly 20 years.

The Fairbanks Skatepark Coalition was one of six recipients of The Skatepark Project’s Winter 2020 Skatepark Construction Grant, awarded $10,000 with the help of the Alex LeVasseur Memorial Fund.

“It is pretty amazing because the funding actually came from a foundation that was based out of Tennessee,” said Fairbanks Skatepark Coalition President Jerry Lee Sadler. “So it is really cool to see one community 4,000 miles away helping out another community in need, so it was huge for us and having the name Tony Hawk to back us is even better. ”

The funding will go towards renovating the John Weaver Memorial Skatepark in Growden Park. At 23 years old, Fairbanks’ only outdoor skatepark is outdated and undersized.

“It was built with a kind of a modular type system with metal ramps that don’t really flow with each other that well and the edges of the ramps are starting to rust out,” Sadler said. “The park was built on paving asphalt that would be on a road and today, the [specification] for skateparks is smoothed out concrete with a higher spec, so that you can practice and take those spills and slide and get back up again. It is just not what is the current industry standard and it just doesn’t have the skateable space for a community our size.”

The Fairbanks Skatepark Coalition (FSC), with the North Star Community Foundation, was founded in 2016 by a group of local action sport riders who wanted to create safe, fun skate parks in the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB), according to their website. The grant from The Skatepark Project was their largest non-governmental donation to date, according to Sadler. However, the Fairbanks Skatepark Coalition also received $186,000 from FNSB through the Community Capital Improvement Program earlier this year, setting up FSC for big plans for the future.

“In the whole scheme of things, we have a long way to go,” Sadler added. “With the creation of a new state of the art park, we hope to be able to develop a program out of it. Run yearly events to try to get new, underprivilege youth to come skate with us. If we continue to fundraise after the park, we want to keep building smaller skate spots around town that kids can come and session on. We just want to give kids an outlet in the community that isn’t as expensive as team sports. It can be practiced out in front of your house and then you can take those skills and bring them to, hopefully, a beautiful 10,000-plus square foot park and ride with your friends and have a healthy outlet.”

Come summer of 2021, renovations will begin for the aging skatepark. More information and links about the Fairbanks Skatepark Coalition can be found on their website.

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