News & Opinion » News

Roc City Skatepark to expand to what it was meant to be

By

The opening of the Roc City Skatepark in the fall of 2020 was the culmination of a 13-year effort spearheaded by local skaters and artists.

But it was only the first phase of what was envisioned.

Now, the city is taking steps to make the park what it was meant to be within the next two years

On Wednesday, the city announced a $3 million state grant that will finance the addition of 13,000 square-feet of skateable space, restrooms, lighting, and a space for events and vendors by 2025.

The skateable space is intended to meet more of the demands of local skaters. Primarily, the addition of street-oriented terrain, ledges, banks, and flatground, all connecting seamlessly to the existing park.

“This is what this project was always meant to be,” said Kanten Russell of New Line Skateparks, at a community meeting at the Frederick Douglass R. Center on South Avenue late Wednesday. New Line is a Canada-based planning company with offices in California and Florida, and is planning the park.



The Roc City Skatepark opened in November 2020 to great fanfare. It was championed by the Friends of the Roc City Skatepark, an advocacy group that long bemoaned Rochester being the only city of the 125 largest in the country without a public skatepark.

RELATED: We chatted with skateboarders, roller skaters, and BMXers at Rochester's sweatiest hotspot.

The 26,000 square-foot park is considered in the field to be top notch, with plenty of transition-focused obstacles, stair sets, rails, ledges, and a massive bowl. It is also fast, with the majority of the park running down an intense slope.

But it wasn’t everything that the skating community felt had been promised, never capturing the essence of a diverse “skate plaza” originally planned. Add to that a lack of bathrooms and complete lighting you’re left with the feeling that the park was half done.

With the coming additions, Russell said the skatepark will appeal to a broader range of skaters, bikers, scooter riders, and rollerbladers. He also pointed out the changes should give the park a more “natural street” feel.

“For people who wanted to ride around without feeling too high speed or running over people, this is that phase,” Russell said. “I want to point that out right out the gate, this is what the missing flavor piece is to make it feel like a complete skatepark.”

The city is currently in the process of conceptualizing the new park, and is working with three possible layouts, each offering similar obstacles, albeit with different configurations. Those designs were informed by input from skaters. A fourth possible design is planned to be drafted based on more input to the city, New Line, and Stantec, the chief contractor for the project.
Option one for the concept of the Roc City Skatepark expansion. - CITY OF ROCHESTER
  • CITY OF ROCHESTER
  • Option one for the concept of the Roc City Skatepark expansion.

Some of the amenities skaters dreamed of aren’t going to happen.

For example, a snake run, a sort of ditch-like track that flows in a serpentine pattern, is not a possibility due to fiber optic cables and sewer lines beneath the ground. The park also can’t be built too high vertically, due to it being directly under the Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Bridge.

RELATED: Young Afghan refugees find community in skateboarding

The land the park sits on is owned by the New York State Department of Transportation, which will need to continue vehicle access underneath the bridge for maintenance. The Department of Transportation provided $1 million to the first phase of the park.

“Features that are designed within the vicinity of the abutments, we need to keep that in mind and consideration in the designs,” said Mike Mantel of Stantec.
Option two for the next phase of the Roc City Skatepark. - CITY OF ROCHESTER
  • CITY OF ROCHESTER
  • Option two for the next phase of the Roc City Skatepark.

After a final design is picked, a bid for a construction contractor is expected to go out in early 2024. The project is planned to break ground in spring of that year and be completed in the fall.
The third option for the skatepark expansion's design. A fourth option plans to be made using feedback from skaters. - CITY OF ROCHESTER
  • CITY OF ROCHESTER
  • The third option for the skatepark expansion's design. A fourth option plans to be made using feedback from skaters.

As for getting that snake run and a second bowl, Russell encouraged a new generation of skaters to pick up the same mantle the Friends of the Roc City Skatepark did 15 years ago and work for another park altogether.

“Every city needs a healthy network of skateparks,” Russell said.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.

Tags