On Wednesday, March 20, the do-it-yourself skatepark known as the “Bridgespot” will be no more when Alabama Department of Transportation officials move to level out the area, which is located under the Red Mountain Expressway on 2nd Avenue North.
Over the past few years, skaters have built dozens of obstacles in the paved area — ramps, rails, quarter pipes, pallets, benches — spending thousands of dollars earned through community fundraising. But the time of repurposing the public space – which had been allowed by authorities – will soon come to an end. City officials visited the park last Friday to notify of the impending demolition, “buying us some time to remove some of the obstacles that aren’t set in concrete,” said Peter Karvonen, owner of Faith Skate Supply.
“They were really nice and polite, and told us that the state sees it as a liability. If something were to fly off a truck and hit someone they could be sued,” Karvonen said.
“[The officials from the mayor’s office] said the city wants to see a skate park here in Birmingham, and I hope that they are sincere. I have to get some proposals together and get moving on the project this week.”
The Bridgespot site was rigged with improvised lighting on Saturday night, while skaters enjoyed barbecue and filmed tricks for a “last hurrah” video.
“It’s a bummer,” said one of the skaters, who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s hard to find places downtown built for skating unless you skate on the streets. Even then there’s a lot against it,” he said, citing what he called “police harassment,” the possibility of trespassing, and “ the possibility that someone might jump you and take your stuff.”
Karvonen and others have been working for years to bring a dedicated skatepark to downtown Birmingham.
A $50,000 Pepsi Refresh grant toward a skatepark was awarded last year to Faith and the A.skate Foundation, a nonprofit group that introduces autistic children to skating. Karvonen said that the project is in line for a Tony Hawk Foundation grant as soon as serious plans with the city move forward.
To support the Birmingham skate park project, visit faithskatesupply.com.