Design goes round and round in planned West Allis skateboarding park

Spohn Ranch Skateparks
Overview of the design for a West Allis skate park that the Common Council approved last week.
Published on: 1/22/2013

West Allis - A skate park design that incorporates urban terrain elements as well as skateboarding's origins in southern California's backyard swimming pools could become a reality here.

The design for the skate park for Radtke Park at 84th Street and National Avenue got the nod from the Common Council last week and shortly will go out for bids.

The cost is estimated at roughly $300,000, said City Administrator Paul Ziehler. Half would come from an anonymous foundation and half from Community Development Block Grant money. The council will have to vote on actually spending the money once the bids are in.

Multifaceted design

As planned, the skatepark is a balance between the kinds of things skateboarders like to bounce around on, such as stairs and benches, and the swimming pool boarding features. That balance was favored by nearly two-thirds of local skateboarders who gave input online and at a meeting held by skate park consultant Spohn Ranch Skateparks, said designer Vince Onel.

"This skatepark has so much variety that it will really be impossible not to have fun," Onel said.

But beyond that, he predicted that skateboarders will appreciate the flow of the park. That wasn't easily done, either, he said.

"We worked tediously to ensure the park had great spacing and optimal lines of travel," Onel said.

Both park and industrial

The West Allis skate park will be different than a lot of skate parks, he said, because the goal of the design is to have the park emerge naturally from its setting.

While many skate parks are fenced in, Spohn Ranch Skateparks focuses on creating unfenced spaces that don't give the feeling of a designated skateboarding facility, Onel said. Instead, the goal is create the feeling of a park that just happens to allow skateboarding.

The West Allis park also will be unique because it will give a nod to the city's industrial past.

"We are locally salvaging a large industrial gear that will be placed at the entrance to the park between the two ramps, making it an obstacle to jump over," Onel said. "The slanted walls next to the stairs will also be shaped like industrial I-beams."

Alderman Gary Barczak said he is pleased the city is moving ahead with the skate park.

"The kids in West Allis have been asking for it," he said.

About a half dozen years ago, a handful of kids brought a petition to the city asking for a skate park.

"Unfortunately, the kids probably are all parents now," Barczak observed.

He said he has observed kids enjoying skate parks in other locations in the state and realized that the bad reputation skateboarders had in his mind was misplaced.

What he saw, he said, "is decent kids having a good time."