The demolition of Ohio State’s only campus skate park could drive boarders to the main campus area, something one skater said could be dangerous and cause property damage.
Some are fighting the decision that was made to replace the skate park with soccer fields, saying the existing fields aren’t used often enough to warrant creating more.
The skate park, “Campus Ramps,” located off of Kenny Road between Woody Hayes Drive and Kinnear Road, is set to be replaced by fall 2014 with student recreation areas, specifically two new soccer fields.
OSU Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said Tuesday the ramp removal had begun and the skate park is already being deconstructed.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the skate park appeared to be nearly completely demolished.
But two skateboarders who frequent the ramp — Kyle Decot, a web application developer for the College of Arts and Sciences Technology Services, and Josh Suh, president of the OSU Skateboarding Club — aren’t giving up hope. They said they are set to meet with an OSU Recreational Sports representative Friday morning, and Decot said he plans to bring a petition he started against the demolition.
Isaacs said the OSU community could benefit from the park being replaced.
“In taking a close look at our facilities and how they are used, we found the skate park to a great extent was not being used by Ohio State University students,” Isaacs said, adding that it was being used more by the Columbus community.
That the park wasn’t being highly used was noted by Recreational Sports, and the decision to close the skate park was approved by a board of students and faculty serving on the university’s Recreational Sports committee.
The construction of the new fields in the park’s place would allow for 64 additional soccer teams to participate in intramurals each semester. The ramps are set to be donated to the city of Wilmington, Ohio, roughly 60 miles from Columbus, Isaacs said.
“This was a fully thought-out decision, and we recognize whenever there is a change of this nature, people will not be pleased by it,” Isaacs said.
Ryan Shaw, a second-year in dance and education, plays intramural soccer with his fraternity. He said there is a need for more fields.
“There aren’t enough soccer fields to facilitate the number of people that are interested in soccer,” he said.
The project, though, has some members of the campus skateboarding community, like Decot and Suh, upset about the decision.
Decot said he began skateboarding at age 11 and that the sport shaped him into the person he is today.
“I saw so much good come out of skate parks. It was a fun place for kids to hang out, it was safe and the kids weren’t on the streets,” Decot said.
The 27-year-old, who says he went to Campus Ramps almost every day, said he started looking into what was happening to the skate park when he noticed ramps were starting to be torn down.
“There were 12 or 15 ramps and the numbers were dwindling, one or two would kind of disappear every so often,” Decot said.
Decot said he decided to take a stand for the sport and start a petition to prevent the demolition of Campus Ramps.
The Change.org petition, titled “Don’t close the OSU Skatepark,” had more than 1,350 signatures from supporters as of Wednesday evening. Decot said he never imagined the support the petition would garner.
“Some skateboarding groups and blogs have shared my petition and people are signing it from all over the country,” Decot said.
Campus Ramps served as a safe place for campus boarders to ride and for children and teenagers in the Columbus area to be active, Suh said.
“The boarders vary in age at the skate park. There are kids and older guys who have been skating their whole lives. The older guys usually mentor the younger kids and teach them tricks,” Suh said.
Suh, a third-year in biology, said a substantial portion of the OSU student body participates in extreme sports, enough to justify keeping the skate park.
Decot said typically when he goes to Campus Ramps, there are more than 25 skateboarders there.
Suh said the OSU Skateboarding club holds its weekly meetings at Campus Ramps and that the removal of the skate park would be inconvenient for his group.
“It’s a great location, it’s right on campus and a lot of students don’t have cars and they can’t drive to any other skate parks,” Suh said. “Obviously, as a skateboarder, it would be really sad for me to see it go.”
Suh and Decot said the removal of the park could encourage boarders to come more frequently onto campus to skateboard, which could be dangerous for boarders and pedestrians and could damage campus properties.
“A part that OSU does not see is that they think that skateboarders will go to another skate park, which is not necessarily true. They are going to go onto campus,” Decot said.
Skateboarding is prohibited on certain parts of OSU’s campus, like the Oval, where a “Walk Zone” policy was implemented in Fall 2013 and offenders can be written citations by officers.
“I would like for OSU to embrace skateboarding and give us a really good park and put money into it, like they do for other sports,” Decot said.
Student Life has no cost estimate for the renovation. Isaacs said the cost should not be great because the plan is to add grass fields over the skate park and re-seeding the area.