New Alton Skatepark Gets Council Seal of Approval for 2019

On Wednesday 22nd August 2018 Alton Town Councillors gathered with members of the local skateboard, BMX and scooter communities alongside Maverick Skatepark’s Lead Designer, Ian Jennings, to discuss plans for a completely redesigned concrete skatepark which will replace the current wooden/steel features at the Jubilee Fields site.

I was there representing local skaters.  Read on for a full update on the current situation.

Part 1: A ticking time bomb of rotten wood and dented steel

One of the first items discussed was the fact that Alton Town Councillors are fully aware the current skatepark is ‘Not Fit For Purpose’. The original mini-ramp at the Jubilee Fields site has been there since the 1980’s and whilst it’s seen multiple generations of budding riders come and go over the years, I’m afraid the time has come for it to head on up to the great scrapyard in the sky.

The rest of the park’s features appeared in the mid 1990’s if memory serves correctly with the addition of a large tarmac area, 2 quarter pipes and jump box; the rails, driveway ramp and spine features all being added piece by piece towards the end of the decade.  

As you can see from the photos below however, it’s all looking a bit sketchy these days to say the least…

Welcome to Alton Skate Park…

Rotting wood covered in dented steel

Dangerous and uneven transitions from tarmac to ramps

Same for the spine ramp (there shouldn’t be a visible gap)

The rail went missing a few years ago and no one seems to know who stole it…

The driveway ramp has clearly seen better days

…and the jump box…

The grind box is about the only half-decent thing left

Part 2: Let there be Hope

Ian from Maverick gave a full and detailed summary of the usual process involved to get the wheels turning (excuse the pun) and described the current location as “full of great potential”, adding the only downside is that we could easily spend £300,000 or more on building a really incredible park.

Now obviously Ian would be expected to say as much in order to fulfil his role for Maverick; but after the research I’ve done into Maverick’s reputation amongst the skateboard community and Town Councillors from previous builds, and from the short time I chatted to him during our site visit, I’m convinced that Maverick aren’t just in this for the money, they genuinely care about the skateboarding/BMX/scooter communities and they want to see the sports grow.  They certainly did an incredible job with the brand new ‘Concrete Waves’ park in Newquay which only opened this July (2018), and which is already being dubbed by some as ‘one of the best skate parks in Europe’.

I’m sure you’ll be particularly interested in an excerpt from this Sidewalk article about the Newquay park:

“The Council contributed the lion’s share of the funding for this from 106 funds and have been incredibly supportive of the project.

Sport England topped up the funding with a further £75K from the Community Asset Fund.

The total budget for the build was £540K in the end.

There is extra funding in place now to install floodlighting and CCTV, which will be happening shortly.”

During the meeting there were also multiple case study handouts being passed around showcasing the possible combinations of skate park features and layouts that are on offer for Altonians to choose from (all from parks recently built by Maverick).  Check out the photos below:

Rails and ramps at the Bourne Valley skate park

Street style skate plaza sections at the New Milton skate park

Street style rails and boxes at Tiverton skate park

In summary, the following matters were agreed upon:

      • Maverick has been asked to prepare a first-draft digital park layout based on a quote of £150,000
      • Alton Town Council will contribute a minimum of £100,000 towards the new skate park
      • Hopefully this can be boosted to £125,000 with further funding from other Hampshire and National based grants and funds (currently being researched)
      • The ‘Task and Finish Group’ (all those who attended the inaugural meeting) will look to the local skateboard, BMX and scooter communities to engage in fundraising activities to help boost any official funding contributions
      • Any skate park layout can only be signed off following public consultations to agree the use of public funds
      • The process of appointing a company/contractor to build the park is set to start in December 2018
      • Building work is planned to commence in March/April 2019
    • If all goes well then the park should be completed by June/July 2019 with a Grand Opening shortly afterwards

Part 3: How can YOU be involved?

It was great to see representation from the BMX community in the form of Johnny, and from the scooter community in the form of Harry and Tom.

What we really need now is for other skaters, BMXers and scooter riders in and around Alton to get involved and start coming up with fundraising ideas and actions.  

I’m currently volunteering with Alton Town Council to trudge through the quagmire of forms to fill in to apply for larger grants from organisations like Sport England, but I’d love to hear from you lot out there if you can have a think about the following:

      • Who is willing to get involved and help set up a crowdfunding campaign and video?  Take a look here at one I did last year for inspiration (we raised over $3,000 USD).
      • Talk to your parents and extended family, does anyone work for a local company who might be willing to donate to our cause?  Modern businesses take ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (i.e. contributing to a healthy + prosperous society) very seriously and many are always looking for ways to support social projects to show they care about the community in which they are based.
      • Do you have any links to skate/BMX/scooter brands like Vans, DC Shoes, Volcom, Hoffman Bikes etc who can speak to their company about supporting us?  Even if it’s not with donations, but with free boards/merchandise/goodies that we could raffle off to raise money.
      • Do you have any of your own fundraising ideas, let me know!
    • Just get out there and see what you can drum up!

(Please make sure you contact myself or Alton Town Council before launching into any major events so that we can coordinate our efforts and make sure we are working towards the same goals)

If you’re keen to get involved or you just want to keep track of what’s happening with this project then please:

  • Subscribe to this blog
  • Take a look at the Facebook group set up especially for this project and provide your comments and suggestions (or comment at the bottom of this post if you like)
  • Follow me on Facebook and Instagram

Cheers everyone.