Dozens of skateboarders — young and old — gathered with city and state officials at Roosevelt Park in Hampden on Tuesday night to celebrate the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Skatepark of Baltimore's second phase.
The reconstruction of the park, at 1121 W. 36th St., will increase opportunities for safe recreational space and introduce city parks to people who might not otherwise visit, said Stephanie Murdock, president and founder of the nonprofit Skatepark of Baltimore.
"It brings a lot of pride to these young people to have a world-class facility that's available 365 days a year," Murdock said.
The second phase includes the replacement of wooden park structures with concrete ones and resurfacing the 11,000-square-foot asphalt area.
Renarldo Stokes, 23, called the new park design — which is on Skatepark of Baltimore's website — exciting.
"It looks crazy," said Stokes, who has been skating at the park since he was 13. "That's all we need. Some of this stuff around here is just stuff that was put together by people who pitched in from anywhere."
The concrete skatepark was created in 2004. The park's current wooden structures, which were built by community members or donated, are deteriorating, Murdock said. The sidewalks and streets near the park are in better condition, she added.
T.J. Fares and Kush Bulmer skate at the park almost every day. The two 16-year-olds said fresh, smooth surface at the park would make skating there safer.
"The ground here is a little rough," Fares said. "It kind of tears up your board and your knees, or whatever you fall on."
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said it was the dedication of Murdock, who works for her, that made the skatepark possible. The councilwoman said members of her family like to skateboard and the park puts Baltimore on the map in the skateboarding community.
"It gives the skateboarders the feel of being out on the street, but they're not." Clarke said. "They're in a safe place."
In February 2014, a partnership between Skatepark of Baltimore and the Department of Recreation & Parks completed a $180,000, 5,000-square-foot concrete bowl at the park.
Money for the second phase came from donations, the city and bonds sold by the state of Maryland. North Carolina-based Artisan Skateparks built the concrete bowl and will work on the reconstruction, Murdock said.
"This is proof that when community and government work together, great things happen," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at the groundbreaking, which featured music from a deejay, shaved ice for skateboarders and a food truck.
Construction will begin this summer, with the goal of completion before 2017, Murdock said. She added that work beyond the second phase is not planned, although she would like to add lights and bathrooms at the park.
The park "is a great success for us and I believe that it will continue to serve the young people of this city for many years to come," Murdock said.
Daniel Oliver, 21, frequents the park and said Tuesday he is excited for its future.
"The skatepark that I've been skating at every day is going to become something great," he said.