Local Issue: Skatepark

Discussions about a permanent skateboard park in Northfield began six years ago, in June 2006, when a group of local youth organized the Northfield Skateboard Coalition. The Coalition, spearheaded by Joe McGowan, pitched their idea to the Northfield Parks and Recreation Board, and began fundraising for a skatepark. Between October 2006 and April 2007, $10,000 was raised through a matching grant from the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative.  In 2011, the Northfield Union of Youth acquired equipment for a skateboard park, which is currently being stored by the city.

According to the March 2008 master plan for city parks, the three leading possibilities for the site of the skatepark are Memorial Park, Ames Park, and Babcock Park (see table below). Memorial Park was the first choice of the skateboard coalition in the early stages of the discussion, but the choice has met consistent opposition from neighborhood residents. Ames Park was originally favored by the City Council, but was removed from consideration by a vote of the Council in June 2009.  In November 2012, the PRAB recommended sending to the city council a ranked list of preferences for a permanent park location, with Riverside as the first choice and Old Memorial as second choice. The PRAB also requested an allocation of $30,000 to begin construction of the park. On December 4, 2012, the City Council unanimously approved the PRAB recommendations, with an additional $30,000 allocation for park construction from city funds.

See also: Northfield Skateboard Park website.

Here's a rough timeline of the process so far:

  • November 2005: Memorial Park master plan adopted (including pool and surrounding greenspace).
  • June 2006: Northfield Skateboard Coalition founded. Favors Memorial Park as location for skatepark.
  • October 2006: Skateboard coalition receives a $10,000 matching grant from Northfield HCI (expires in 2012).
  • March 2008: Park system master plan adopted (listing Memorial, Ames or Babcock as possible skatepark locations).
  • June 2009: City Council votes 5-1 to eliminate Ames Park as a possible site for the skatepark.
  • July 2009: Temporary skatepark located in Babcock Park.
  • Late 2011: Northfield Union of Youth acquires skatepark equipment from the City of Plymouth.
  • Early 2012: Parks and Recreation Board begins considering a location for a temporary skatepark.
  • May 2012: Temporary skatepark opens in Riverside Lions Park.
  • October 2012: PRAB committee makes recommendation for site of a permanent park; the full PRAB tables the motion to accept the recommendation, in order to explore the possibility of the YMCA site.
  • November 2012: PRAB recommends Riverside Park as the site for a permanent skatepark, with Memorial as an alternative site. The PRAB also requests from the city council an allocation of $30,000 to start construction of a skateboard park.
  • December 4, 2012: The City Council approves the west side of Riverside Park as the location of a permanent skateboard park, and approves the allocation of $30,000 in park board funds with an additional $30,000 (from a city source to be determined) for construction of the park.
  • February 5, 2013: The City Council approves the allocation of $30,000 from the park board and a matching $30,000 from the city’s general fund. The Council directs the park board to oversee the project, with completion of the project in 2013.
  • May 9, 2013: The PRAB decides to move forward with a skateboard park in Old Memorial Park, citing prohibitive costs for site remediation due to poor soils in Riverside Park.
  • September 25, 2013: The PRAB holds a design workshop with Spohn Ranch to solicit input from skateboarders and neighbors on the design of the park.
  • October 17, 2013: The PRAB considers design alternatives submitted by Spohn Ranch and hears concerns about skateboard park noise. The next step will be to set up a video conference with Spohn Ranch to provide feedback on the designs.
  • January 2014: City of Northfield send out RFP (request for proposals) for a skateboard park design firm. 
  • June 2014: Pillar Design Studios chosen as skatepark designer.
  • July 2014. Site visit by Pillar Design Studios representative. 
  • January 2015. Final approval by PRAB and City Council (pending).

Here's a list of links to resources for Northfield citizens who want to become more informed on this local issue.  Northfield.org does not take a position on this issue, but encourages citizens to become better informed about local issues and to contact their elected officials to make their voices heard.

UPDATE (August 2014): Because of a redesign in 2013, most of the links to City of Northfield website are now broken.

Northfield's City Ordinance on Skateboards

New materials (April 2012 and following)

Older materials (2005-April 2012)

Opinion Pieces

Above: the proposed skateboard park location in Riverside Park (December 2012). Rejected in early 2013 because of unfavorable soil conditions.

Above: possibly the earliest mention of a skateboard park in official city documents.

The pros and cons of Memorial, Ames, and Babcock Parks as locations for the skatepark (from the 2008 Park Master Plan, section 3.28).

The section on Memorial Park from the 2008 Park Master Plan (section A.23).


BMX at the 2012 Temporary Skateboard Park in Riverside Park.