This first-of-its-kind street-skating plaza, which opened June 5, 2005, is approximately 40,000 square feet and is designed for street skateboarding by incorporating urban terrain elements such as benches, rails and ledges. Unlike most modern day skate parks that consist of stark vertical ramps and half pipes, the skate plaza resembles a public square in a town or city by incorporating landscaping and art to create a multi-use park that is aesthetically pleasing.
Several years ago, the concept for a skate park in Kettering was brought up in a focus group during the Youth Summit, an annual retreat that addresses issues faced by Kettering youth. Staff from the Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department organized a committee of teens to research the needs in regards to a skate park. It became evident that Kettering needed a facility of its own to keep skateboarders from illegally using and damaging public park amenities including benches and stair railings. The Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts staff then began researching possible sites for the facility.“It’s our responsibility to provide recreational activity outlets for all kinds of kids,” said Mary Beth Thaman, Director of Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts. “The skate plaza-style park will reach kids we don’t reach in traditional programs.”
Once the site was approved, several public meetings were held with youth and park neighbors to address security, skate park design, and amenities along with a timeline for completion. With a little bit of luck and some fatherly advice, Kettering native and professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek met with the City to discuss this unique project.
“At one point I heard Kettering was looking at building something for skate boarders and they were having kids come in and give their input. It just happened to fall about the right time when Rob was in town. Rob and I came over and met with the people at the Kettering Recreation Complex. It really just started with that,” said Gene Dyrdek, Rob’s father.
Rob began working with the city staff and Site Design Group Inc. to design the skate plaza and help secure funding for the project. After several revisions to the design and content of the skate plaza, plans were created that satisfied everyone’s needs.
“The level of support from the city has been huge. Because of the design and the fact that it had never been done before, they had to put a certain level of trust in me. Kettering has bent over backwards to make this happen. The skate plaza is going to be huge for skate boarders as well as the city of Kettering,” said Rob.