Norman Forward skate park project moves ahead

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Joseph Ashry grabs his board as he launches off a ramp last year at Blake Baldwin Skate Park.

A new skate park soon will fill Andrews Park, but public feedback is needed before construction begins.

Norman City Council approved a contract Tuesday for Norman and the American Ramp Company to begin the project.

Project Manager James Briggs said the next step is scheduling public meetings for feedback on the proposed designs and style. He said the meetings are anticipated for the end of July or early August but will be announced by the city.

Briggs said the skate park will be unlike the previous street course park, Blake Baldwin Skate Park, and will have more of a West Coast, skate bowl style with drop-ins and plaza areas. He said there also will be several street features, ramps and a pump track around the entire park.

The hope, Briggs said, is that the skate park is enjoyed not only by the skating community, but by the biking community as well. He said the track will loop around the park so people on bikes can flow right into the main park.

Since Andrews Park was recently removed from consideration for a new senior citizens center, the project is set to move forward for the concrete bowl, plaza-style skate park. Through Norman Forward, the project is funded at $900,000.

The project also includes the demolition of the existing water storage tank, which will be coordinated by Briggs and the soon-to-be selected engineering firm.

"We appreciate everybody's patience; we know the skating community is really excited for it," Briggs said. "We are excited to get moving, and we are looking forward to a lot of feedback from our citizens."

Parks and Recreation Director Jud Foster presented the project Tuesday to the council. Construction is anticipated to begin in the fall and -- if weather permits -- completed by next summer.

Foster said the original skate park, Blake Baldwin Skate Park, was built in 2001, but the re-alignment of James Garner Avenue caused the skate park to relocate its above-ground steel ramps to surrounding neighborhood parks.

The original park was named after Blake Baldwin, local skater and park advocate, whose family fundraised and stayed involved after Baldwin died. Foster said there are plans to retain Baldwin's name in the new skate park.

To get the skating community more involved in the upcoming public meetings, Foster said, the Parks and Recreation Department has gone to skate parks and put up flyers. He said residents have responded to it, and the city will continue to keep the public notified.

"It will be a big enough park that it will be really one of the premiere parks in the state of Oklahoma once it's completed, and it will be something that is there for everybody," John Hunter, vice president for the American Ramp Company, said.

American Ramp Company will complete the specialty design and construction work for this project once the design, plan and engineering portions are completed. The company has built parks in every state and in 40 countries throughout the world.

"I think it's awesome that the City of Norman is looking to invest in providing that type of infrastructure for skaters and bikers," Hunter said. "Ultimately, I think it will be a really cool and well-used facility in the community."