Despite funding issues, Irmo skatepark committee remains determined to add amenity

Posted 2/1/23

The team looking to bring a skatepark to Irmo is determined to make their dream a reality.

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Despite funding issues, Irmo skatepark committee remains determined to add amenity


The team looking to bring a skatepark to Irmo is determined to make their dream a reality.

Money is currently being raised for a proposed skatepark in Rawls Creek Park, with plans also calling for a dog park and community garden. According to Marie Ryan, a member of the skatepark committee, the group has raised about $100,000, with the goal to raise about $250,000 for an adequate size skatepark.

Ryan hopes to build a 6,000-square-foot skatepark, which she said she believes will be a good minimum size, mentioning her experience when she took her kids to a skatepark in Florence that was 7,000 square feet. Columbia is already home to Owen’s Field Skate Park which is 15,000 square feet.

“My only fear is that as a community, we're going to regret later that we didn't go bigger on it,” she said.

Finding adequate funding for the project has been the biggest obstacle the committee has had to overcome. 

According to Ryan, the park’s land is now in violation of the terms of a previous grant received via the Land and Water Conservation Act. Ryan said the agreement was violated when the land was not maintained, thus being shut down for being hazardous to park goers. All of this means that grant is no longer available to help fund the skatepark.

Another funding issue that the committee faces is that Irmo’s poverty rate of 5.3% is far lower than the poverty rate statewide (14.6%) and nationwide (12.8%), meaning some funds that are awarded based on those metrics are not available to them. 

For instance, the committee was unable to receive the full amount available from the Tony Hawk Foundation, having to settle for an allotment of $1,000.

Ryan said that if the committee doesn’t get the money needed by its April fundraising deadline, the members have talked about doing a DIY park instead.

“If we don't get the funds that we need, we can still pour a slab of concrete at that park and bring features out there for kids to skateboard on,” Ryan said “So whatever happens, there will be a place for kids to skate.”

Ryan told the Chronicle that once the skatepark is built, it will be sustainable and won’t cost the town any money for maintenance.

The timeline for the park has changed a bit since Ryan told the Chronicle in October that the committee hoped to have it completed by March 2023. The park is now anticipated to open by the end of the year if they hit their April fundraising deadline.

The committee pushing for the park is involved with HeartEd Youth Zone, an after-school program for kids in the community. Per its website, the nonprofit “establishes partnerships with affordable housing companies, municipalities, and youth service providers to provide after-school and summer programming for residents 5-18.”

About once a month the committee holds a skate day, during which Columbia skate shop Bluetile helps kids learn how to skate, with the kids also being provided lunch and a DJ sometimes playing music.

According to Ryan, the program’s attendance has increased from 35 to 72 since the committee became involved in December 2021. The skate days currently use removable ramps en lieu of a proper park.

Talking about the partnership, Ryan espoused the benefits that skating has for the kids, saying that children are drawn to skateboarding because there are no “typical rules.” She told the Chronicle that it helps the kids gain a variety of skills including, but not limited to, decision-making, navigation, determination and focus.

Irmo Mayor Barry Walker emphasized this potential when reflecting on the partnership and the potential skatepark.

“It's a place where kids can go to learn how to skateboard and do tricks and stuff like that,” he said.“But more importantly stay out of trouble.”

irmo skatepark, lexington county recreation, columbia skateboard


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