Slavic Village, a neighborhood once considered to be the epicenter of the national foreclosure crisis, took another step this week towards remaking itself as a regional hub for urban recreation. A public meeting was held to kick off the design of a new skateboard park that will be located at Broadway and Union Avenue on the site of a former brownfield.
"It all started when a neighborhood resident approached us about creating a skate park," says Jacob Van Sickle, Active Living Coordinator for Slavic Village Development, the nonprofit community development group that serves the neighborhood. "From there, we worked to build awareness of skateboarding by creating the 'East Meets West' competition, offering lessons at Stella Walsh Recreation Center and engaging skateboarders in the neighborhood."
Van Sickle soon found that skateboarders were leaving the city in droves to pursue their sport elsewhere. The reason is that the City of Cleveland lacked a decent, permanent skatepark. "Many of them are artistic and entrepeneurial; they're part of the creative class," he says. "We saw an economic development opportunity to attract people from across the region to our neighborhood."
Slavic Village Development engaged the nonprofit Public Square Group to help create a new park. Both parties saw it as a way to redevelop the blighted Broadway Avenue corridor. "Skateboarding evolved out of an urban environment, and skaters have always reclaimed less developed public spaces," says Vince Frantz, President and Executive Director of the Public Square Group.
Van Sickle and Frantz expect the new park to create amenities for skaters and non-skaters alike, as benches and spectator amenities will be incorporated. The design has been funded by Neighborhood Progress Inc., and additional public meetings are scheduled to take place in the coming months. As the design is completed, project leaders will seek sources of funding to build the park.
Source: Jacob Van Sickle, Vince Frantz
Writer: Lee Chilcote