Skateboarding, with all its promise of free-form expression and daredevil athleticism, seems the perfect antidote to the summer doldrums.
From Hingham to Marshfield to Scituate, communities south of Boston abound with quality skateboard parks offering great exercise in the great outdoors.
But sadly, not all skate parks embody the idyllic summer escape.
Recreation officials in Quincy readily admit the park on Pond Street has run into trouble with inconsiderate behavior (profanity, loud music) that deters not only skateboarders, but also visitors to the neighboring Little League fields. Fortunately, though, there are numerous other outlets for budding boarders, from vert to street-style riders, looking for their daily grind. And the list is getting longer.
For example, in Brockton, the city recently received a $10,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation to help subsidize a skate park at the James Edgar Playground, part of a $650,000 renovation project. And the Friends of the Scituate Skatepark report that the town’s Recreation Department is supporting efforts to refurbish that classic venue.
Here are a few favorite spots where the polyurethane hits the pavement:
Hingham Skate Park
If you want to ride the flow train, the preeminent place to get on board is in Hingham, beside Carlson Fields on Bare Cove Park Drive.
Designed and built by the California-based Action Sport Development for a cool $220,000 in late 2010, the Hingham park features 7,500 square feet of skateboarding heaven. Thirty percent is a dedicated “flow” park, with a well-drained cloverleaf bowl area (shallow and deep) of silky smooth concrete, while the remaining 70 percent is a street plaza with various elements including steps and rails.
The downside to having such a great layout, in such great shape, is that the park can get crowded quickly (especially with younger boarders). For an unfettered session, get there early. The park is open to skateboards and inline skates, but not bicycles (this has been an occasional point of contention). Skaters are asked to wear helmets at all times (other protective equipment is recommended but not required), and skating is not allowed after dark or when the surface is wet.
Marshfield Skate Park
Talk about convenient. Better known as the Uncle Bud Skate Park, the Marshfield layout is right behind the Levitate Surf & Skate Shop on Ocean Street.
Though not the scale of the parks in Hingham or Wellfleet, Marshfield is still a great outlet for local riders, with “a few boxes, roll-ins, and quarterpipes,” said Pat Forsythe, a 22-year-old native who works at Levitate. “And it’s a great place for kids, because it’s enclosed.”
That makes perfect sense. The park is dedicated to John M. “Buddy” Nangle Jr., a longtime supporter of Marshfield youth. Nangle would likely approve that the park hosts weekday morning skate camps — taught by Forsythe — most weeks during the summer. Contact the Marshfield Recreation Department for availability.
If anything goes wrong with your rig, don’t fret: The folks next door in Levitate’s full-service shop can get you rolling again in no time.
Though a bit threadbare, the Scituate Skatepark has long been a destination for local boarders. Near the tennis courts and inline hockey rink behind Scituate High on Chief Justice Cushing Way (Route 3A), the skate park offers 12,000 square feet spread over three areas. It is much like a grand old New England hotel: glorious in its prime, but in need of some tender loving care.
Built in the late 1990s, the park features a mix of concrete street elements such as ramps, rails, and fun boxes.
However, thanks to the efforts of a number of local riders, the park may soon enjoy a renaissance, as plans are underway to raise funds for a complete overhaul next year.
“It’s been incredibly popular, one of the most-used outdoor recreation facilities in town,” said Dan Monger, a former Planning Board member who, along with his two skateboarding sons, is spearheading the fund-raising efforts.
“We want to make it for kids with all different abilities. The big thing is to make sure it’s not too congested. It’s been a really great park, but it’s a bit of the older style. Things have evolved,” Monger said.
Skaters Edge, Taunton
Not every summer day is filled with sunshine and blue skies. When Mother Nature threatens to put a damper on your shred session, you can always opt for the Skaters Edge Indoor Skatepark on West Water Street in Taunton. The largest indoor facility in the state, Skater’s Edge has more than 30,000 square feet of wall-to-wall terrain.
“It has massive bowls, with every single type of half-pipe, every single type of step,” said Forsythe.
Open seven days a week during the summer to skateboarders, inline enthusiasts, scooter and BMX riders ages 5 and up, Skaterss Edge has a seemingly endless variety of bowls and pipes (including a wildly popular launch into a foam pit), and myriad street elements.
The park typically charges $15 per three-hour session (including from 9 p.m. to midnight on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday), or $25 for an all-day pass (half-season and full-season passes are also available). But when the weather outside is inclement, the opportunity to keep the wheels spinning is priceless for diehard boarders.
Wellfleet Skate Park
For boarders, the undisputed king of Cape Cod is opposite Mayo Beach on Kendrick Avenue in Wellfleet Harbor.
“Once a year, I make sure I make it to Wellfleet to skate,” said Paul Tuzzio, a Connecticut resident. “It’s right across from the beach, with great views. It’s a nice concrete flow park, not too big, with a very tight West Coast-style bowl.”
It’s an open, outdoor free park, but like Hingham, prone to crowds (a situation exacerbated by the nearby beach, which means parking comes at a premium).
But there’s good reason why the park is so popular — a 2007 renovation replaced several aging, rusting prefab elements with a poured concrete bowl boasting beautifully banked walls that are pure velvet.
For local knowledge on the park, stop by Sickday Surf & Skate Shop at 361 Main St. in Wellfleet. And if going that far down Cape is just a bit too far, consider the Chatham Skate Park, alongside the Chatham Municipal Airport off George Ryder Road.
Another terrific indoor option on Cape Cod is the air-conditioned Funbox Skate Park in Hyannis, part of the Balls to the Wall Paintball complex on Airport Road.
This list, however, is just for starters. You can also find parks in Attleboro (Riverwalk), Bourne, Dartmouth (West Dartmouth Skatepark), Fairhaven (Livsey Skatepark), Fall River (Abbott Court Playground), Foxborough, Lakeville, Orleans (Finch Park), and South Yarmouth (Bass River Sports World).
Brion O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.