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Manchester’s old skatepark is going back to nature, with help from conservation groups

Curtis Blank is pictured next to the empty lot that was the old Manchester skate park.
Curtis Blank is pictured next to the empty lot that was the old Manchester skate park. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

The old Manchester skatepark near Md. 27 was dismantled in the final months of 2015. Where there once were graffiti-covered ramps, there’s now just an asphalt pad. Local skaters have since moved to a new park across town, and this year conservation groups plan to remove and replace the remnants of the old place with native plants.

Art Senkel, a member of Patapsco Valley Trout Unlimited, or PVTU, helped to plan the project, which aims to improve water quality in the tributary and to enhance the recreational value of the park, he said.

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The project will take out the old skate pad, an impervious surface where pollution mixes with rainwater that is washed into the water system. Invasive species of plants are also on their way out and will be replaced with native trees and shrubs.

The changes will hopefully “increase storm water infiltration and reduce sediment and nutrient loading to the stream. In addition, the resulting landscape improvements create possibilities for the Town to promote public use of the open space,” Senkel wrote in an email.

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Right now, the plan is to remove the asphalt pad, restore grade, and remove invasive species in 2020.

Shrub and tree planting is set for next year. Community volunteers will be welcome at that stage.

This site is important because its headwaters lead into a tributary for Big Pipe Creek. They’re part of a system that supports Maryland’s only native trout, the brook trout.

“Trout Unlimited conservation focuses on coldwater rivers and streams and their environments — typically the rivers and streams we work on contain trout but not always,” Senkel said.

"There are no brook trout on-site but at downstream locations, a small and very fragile population is found. This population while know to some locals was only recently “discovered’ by [Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources].”

Conservation groups are interested in protecting this population and revamping the old park is part of this effort.

The old Manchester skate park is pictured in 2013. The park was replaced with a new one across town, and what remains in 2020 is an asphalt pad, which conservation groups plan to remove and replace with native plants.
The old Manchester skate park is pictured in 2013. The park was replaced with a new one across town, and what remains in 2020 is an asphalt pad, which conservation groups plan to remove and replace with native plants. (Jon Kelvey/The Advocate)

Many local organizations have partnered with PVTU, including the Town of Manchester, National Resource Conservation Service, Carroll County Soil Conservation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forestry and Freshwater Fisheries Programs, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Senkel explained that funding has come from several sources.

“PVTU has secured partial funding through a private grant to remove the impervious skate pad, restore grade, and do other work. With the help of MD DNR Forest Service, we will also be seeking a Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Grant. The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay Forest Programs will fund the bulk of the invasive removals and the shrub and tree plantings as well as future maintenance. The NRCS and Soil Conservation District have lent technical expertise and assisted in sediment and grading planning,” he said.

Meanwhile, skateboard culture is alive and well near Christmas Tree Park, where the Manchester SkatePark Project regularly hosts events and even advocates to help other towns spruce up their parks to give kids more things to do.

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