Genoa Park District celebrates skate park’s renewal

August 6, 2018

The newly renovated skate park in Genoa’s Chamberlain Park is like a dream come true for 7-year-old Truman Brown of Kingston. The second-grader at Kingston Elementary School, who described himself as a “league-level skater,” said that he couldn’t wait for Sunday’s grand opening, so he and his friends could practice their skateboarding tricks.

“It’s unique,” he said of the skate park. “It’s amazing, and the surface is so smooth. I’ve been excited for this all summer. I love skateboarding because you get to meet a bunch of new people and there’s no ending to it. Once you get it down, you can’t really stop.”

Truman and several other skateboarders, both young and old, were on hand for the Park District’s ribbon-cutting celebration Sunday morning. Ariel Ries, owner of Fargo Skateboarding in DeKalb, was one of the designers of the park’s renovation, which took about two months to complete. The concrete surface was recoated, and several other features, such as ramps, quarter pipes and a half pipe, were added to the park. Ries said it was an “ambitious challenge,” but she was happy the district asked her to be involved.

“We’re really excited about how this turned out,” she said. “There are so many things for both beginning and advanced skaters. It’s an amazing training ground, and you can learn so much. It has everything you need to progress. It’s a gem in this small community.”

The district used funds that it received from an Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant to help pay for the park, which cost about $65,000. It also made other improvements to Chamberlain Park, adding a sand volleyball court and bocce ball area. Paul Bafia, executive director, said a lot of kids were asking for updates to the skate park, which originally Shaw Media file photo built in 1998.

“[The park] gets used a lot, and after 20 years of wear and tear, it was starting to break down,” he said. “We’re hoping to attract more skaters. This is another recreation feature that we like to offer the community.”

Lizz Bartalone of Hinckley said her two children were up at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, eagerly awaiting the 10 a.m. opening. She said that she was happy that they now have a safe place to skate.

“Unfortunately, skating isn’t widely accepted by the community as a whole, and there aren’t a lot of places for them to skate, so they end up skating on the street or sidewalk,” she said. “This gives them a place where they can be active and find a community. You give them a place to play, and they’ll play.”

Jill Isom of Malta home-schools her children, so she said that the updated park would be a great option for physical education. She said her son, Mason, also had been looking forward to the park’s opening.

“I think it’s great we have a quality park that’s close,” Isom said. “This gives my son an outlet. Before they opened the gates this morning, Mason was here helping to clean up. It fosters a sense of stewardship and taking care of your community.”

Kaylynn Lancaste, 11, of Genoa said she’s been skateboarding for about a year. The Genoa Middle School sixth-grader said it’s something you can do “when you’re bored.”

“It takes your mind off certain stuff,” she said. “[Skateboarding] is hard to do at first, but once you get used to the ramps, it gets easier. The park is a lot better than it used to be. I like how there’s more ramps and things to do.”

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