AWOL Skateshop

Neal Rodgers, 18, a Catonsville native now living in Pikesville, rides the half-pipe inside AWOL skate shop. Young customers at the shop on Frederick Road are trying to raise $1,000 to soundproof the back room where they practice. (Photo by Nate Pesce / August 6, 2012)

A half-dozen skateboarders and a couple of spectators gathered at an indoor half pipe in downtown Catonsville on Aug. 2 and took turns dropping into the U-shaped ramp.

From speakers strategically placed around the room in the back of AWOL A Way of Life Skate Shop at 827 Frederick Road, Black Sabbath boomed loud enough to be heard over the thunder-like rumbling of skatebord wheels rolling across the plywood surface.

The thuds of an airborne skateboard hitting the ramp ricocheted around the room, often followed by fellow skaters banging their boards on the ground in approval.

But the noise was a problem for the Frederick Road Veterinary Hospital, which shares the building with the skate shop.

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"You're at a hospital and you hear music and something in the background. It's not what we would want," said Dan Zakai, who, with his wife, Lisa, owns the hospital and the building.

"For clients, too, when they come into a hospital, they don't expect to hear festivities and things going on," he said.

Additionally, the skate shop and veterinary office share the same ceiling, which more easily transmits the noise, said Ben Munoz, the owner of the skate shop.

Munoz compared the stage where skaters stand as they wait to plunge into the ramp to a speaker box because it has nothing below it to absorb the sound.

Now the young skateboarders have taken it upon themselves to raise the $1,000 needed to soundproof the room.

Dan Zakai said he and his wife are open to whatever would work and would have no problem with skaters using the half pipe during the day if the noise is reduced.

Soundproofing would include adding a drop ceiling, filling the area under the stage with used tires or insulation and installing insulation on the walls, Munoz said.

"I'm not trying to charity-case this," Munoz said. "I'm a small business guy. I'm pretty much a one-man show.

"We want to teach ownership to it," Munoz said. "We're willing to take care of them. So when they're willing to help, it's a nice quid pro quo."

The fundraising movement started at the beginning of August and is just starting to gain momentum, Munoz said.

To raise awareness about the campaign, Munoz and his friend, area business promoter Patsy Anderson, arranged a ribbon-cutting ceremony for 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 8.

The ceremony will be broadcast on "In Other Words," an Internet radio show that Anderson and Susan Scher co-host.

"I just started to hear what a difficult time skateboarders have," Anderson said. "If there were children playing baseball in the streets, we build them a baseball diamond."

Starting small

Munoz explained that many of the five to 10 young skateboarders who glide up and down the ramp each weekday and many of the 20 who filter through on the weekend are regular customers.

It's those customers who have taken on the burden of raising the money to soundproof the ramp area, Munoz said.