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Mount Airy group raising funds, seeking town land to build skatepark

A local duo is determined to build a skatepark in Mount Airy and are confident they will raise the funds to do so. All they need from the town is the land.

Sara McIlvain of Mount Airy teamed up with Billy Shreve of Frederick, a former Frederick County commissioner and council member, to build a place for not only skaters but family and friends. They presented their plan to the Mount Airy town council June 7.

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McIlvain said at the meeting she has two boys with skateboards and a daughter with a scooter who want to skate all the time. They frequent other regional skate parks, but want one closer to home.

During her presentation, she read a letter from a 13-year-old skater who wanted the same thing — a place where he can skate without getting yelled at. He said skating helps him make friends and relieve stress.

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McIlvain initially had an idea for a pop-up park but wanted something permanent. She said they advertised the idea for a pump track, a path for bikers and skaters with ridges and bumps, at the local carnival and the kids in the community were excited. McIlvain said it’s a growing sport, supported by the introduction of skateboarding in next month’s Summer Olympics Games.

“I think it’s absolutely something that would benefit our community, kids, young and old,” McIlvain said.

She said they believe they can have phase one of the skate park completed in a year after raising the necessary funds, getting town approval and access to the land.

The park would take up a half acre, according to Shreve. In an interview on Wednesday, he said that he and town officials are looking at Watkins Park as a possible location for the skatepark.

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McIlvain asked council members on June 7 if the project could move forward. Council member Pamela Reed suggested, based on her past experiences, that they continue fundraising and a thumbs-up would be granted eventually.

“The more you raise, the more realistic it will come,” she said.

Sara McIlvain, a Mount Airy resident, holds a poster advertising a plan for a new skatepark in town.
Sara McIlvain, a Mount Airy resident, holds a poster advertising a plan for a new skatepark in town. (Billy Shreve)

McIlvain said in an interview on Wednesday they raised more than $1,200 the first week of their campaign. Their next fundraising event is July 12 through a partnership with the restaurant Siempre De Fiesta. They also started a GoFundMe account for the skatepark and as of Wednesday afternoon $455.

Mount Airy once had a skatepark but the wood-made structure deteriorated and is now abandoned. She said comparing the proposed park to the old one is like comparing apples to oranges since the old one was made of wood and the new one would be concrete. It’s more of an investment, but also more permanent, she added.

Stephen Domotor, one of the new council members, said he wants to make sure the skatepark would serve all constituents, young and old, since a survey showed residents under the age of 20 are 36% of the population and very few suggested sports amenities, like basketball courts, pickleball courts and skateparks on the same survey.

McIlvain said surely the skatepark would attract younger residents but it would be a place where all ages can gather.

McIlvain and Shreve said they would like it to be a community park owned by the town.

“I’m not from the government, so I don’t want your money,” Shreve said. “But I want your land.”

He said the reason he wants the town’s land is because of the insurance.

The park would be built in phases that would cost around $150,000. McIlvain said she would like phase one of the Mount Airy skatepark plan to consist of pump track that includes at least a rail and a drop in.

“We want to build over several phases as we raise funds and with each phase we will add elements for more advanced skill,” she said.

She added they are thinking about including a bowl, which is appealing to bikers. But everything is dependent on the feedback and funds.

Shreve already has experience building a skatepark. He’s responsible for the skatepark in Urbana Community Park in Frederick. They recently raised funds during the pandemic to add a ramp and pump track to the park.

He said the new park would be handicap accessible and a place where even seniors can attend.

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