Sykesville, Howard County asking for input on South Branch Skate Park

Sykesville, Howard County asking for input on South Branch Skate Park
(DYLAN SLAGLESTAFF PHOTO, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Whether your preferred mode of transportation is on a skateboard, scooter, bike or in-line skates, the town of Sykesville and Howard County would like your input on the design of the soon-to-be-renovated South Branch Skate Park.

A meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday in the media center at Sykesville Middle School. Howard County has retained Spohn Ranch Skateparks, a design and construction company based in California, as the consultant for the design workshop.


At the meeting, officials will be accepting the public's input on what should be included at the redesigned skate park.

No conceptual plans or preliminary ideas for the park exist, said Raul Delerme, bureau chief for the Howard County Bureau of Capital Projects.

"That's why we are having the charrette — to get the opinion of the different user groups in the community and to brainstorm the best fit for the area," Delerme said.

Tyler Vinje, of Eldersburg, not only uses the skate park but also has constructed and added 11 obstacles to it. He said he will be attending the meeting and has urged his friends to attend as well.

He said he is hoping the plans designed from his input will include features that are different from those in skate parks in the area.

"All the skate parks around here have all the same stuff," Vinje said. "One thing that definitely needs to be added is a drainage system. When it rains, puddles form real quick and can be dangerous."

Howard County has worked with Spohn Ranch before on the North Laurel Skatepark, Delerme said. For that project, they held a similar meeting and received great ideas from the community along with well-designed plans from the company, he said.

Vinje said his favorite skate park is in Fairfax, Va., which Spohn Ranch Skateparks designed and built.

The importance of building a safe and affordable skate park was illustrated earlier this year at a Sykesville Town Council meeting.

Park users had taken it upon themselves to construct homemade ramps, which went against an ordinance passed last year prohibiting any new construction without council approval. One of those ramps is more than 2 feet tall, which would increase the town's insurance premiums, said Councilman Al Grasley, liaison to the skate park for the town.

Those responsible for building the ramp presented a check to the council to pay for the increased insurance cost, but steps needed to be taken to prevent any more of these unsafe structures from being built, Grasley said. The town and Howard County are hoping the workshop will help meet the demands of users and at the same time provide a safe environment, Delerme said.

The skate park is part of phase two of the South Branch Park project. The remainder of phase two includes adding signage and additional parking spaces, stabilizing the historic Apple Butter Factory and fulfilling stormwater management requirements.

Grasley estimates that construction could begin on the skate park as early as spring of next year. Sykesville and Howard County are waiting for final approval from the state, but they expect that very soon, Delerme said.

Phase one was completed in early September and included the construction of a pavilion, playground, retaining wall, the removal of the historic water tower on the property and the addition of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking and access.


To fund the project, Sykesville applied for and was the recipient of a $269,000 community parks and playground grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in June 2011. It will be used to pay for parts of phase two, including the stabilization of the Apple Butter Factory.

Howard County has also contributed heavily to the project. The county had $460,000 allocated in fiscal year 2014 that has been used to pay for stormwater management fees, the parking lot and ADA accessibility requirements. Delerme requested an additional $300,000 for fiscal 2015 to fund the studies on repurposing the factory.

Delerme said of these funds, $110,000 went to the design and renovation of the Sykes House, adjacent to the skate park, and the remainder will go to funding the rest of phases two and three.

Reach staff writer Wiley Hayes at 410-857-3315 or

If you go

What: South Branch Skate Park Design Workshop

Where: In the media center at Sykesville Middle School, 7301 Springfield Ave.

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18

For more information: Contact the Sykesville Town House at 410-795-8959