More than a year after being forced out of the Eastland DIY skatepark that they built up over years, a group of Charlotte skateboarders finally has a government-sanctioned plan in place for a new location, though the work is only just beginning.
On Friday, the Charlotte Skate Foundation, a nonprofit formed by the founders of Eastland DIY after that skatepark was closed, launched a crowdsourcing campaign to build a new DIY skatepark at Kilborne Park in east Charlotte. The campaign raised over $7,500 in its first weekend.
Charlotte Skate Foundation says Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation has agreed to lease the land that currently holds the park’s tennis courts to the foundation, which will be given free rein to repave or repurpose the courts and build a new skatepark atop the foundation within parameters of whatever stipulations are made in a lease agreement.
A Park & Rec rep told Queen City Nerve that the department “does not yet have a finalized agreement with the Charlotte Skate Foundation, but hope to have more information to share in the next few weeks.”
According to CSF, the deal in the works will allow the foundation to lease the land for $1 a year. Despite that, the project will still be costly. According to CSF, repaving the courts or repurposing them — patching up the many cracks and rough areas — could cost around $10,000, with liability insurance running at around $8,000 per year once the park opens.
Due to the county’s funding cycle for park bonds, Park & Rec would not be able to help with project expenses until July at the earliest, but more than likely not until 2028 when the new cycle begins. CSF hopes to begin building the skatepark by July 1, 2023 at the latest.
Built on the foundation of an old Hollywood Video at the former Eastland Mall site beginning in 2015, founders like Stephen Barrett poured thousands of dollars of their own money into the Eastland DIY park, building it into one of the most popular skate spots in North Carolina until they were informed in February 2022 that they would need to leave.
Developers were preparing to get started on construction of a $26-million multi-use redevelopment on the Eastland property that at the time was led by Tepper Sports and Entertainment along with Crosland Southeast.
Talking with Queen City Nerve after launching the latest crowdsourcing campaign, Barrett said it’s been frustrating to see that the location where the skatepark once stood remains undeveloped.
“We could have still been there,” he said.
Though most of the site is already planned out, Charlotte City Council has still not made a decision on what will go in the space where Tepper’s large project was planned to go.
City staff worked with the skaters to find a replacement location for some time, with the city proposing a property near the Tyvola light rail station for a skatepark in May 2022. Issues with Norfolk Southern, which owns the land, and the lack of a proper foundation brought those conversations to an end, Barrett said.
Once the county got involved, CSF was able to explore options at existing parks, which led to the Kilborne project, the first of its kind in the area. Barrett said CSF was founded using the model of the Asheville Skate Foundation, a similar nonprofit that runs the Foundation Asheville skatepark in that city.
As CSF works on fundraising for the Kilborne project, Barrett emphasized that there will be time for outreach within the skate community regarding its design. A graphic being used in the crowdsourcing campaign was just a rendering dreamt up by one skater and does not portray any finalized plan, he insisted.
“We are going to do this the most democratic way possible,” he told Queen City Nerve. “We’ll get there.”
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