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East Cambridge skatepark to open this fall

Skaters: tighten your trucks and make sure your bearings are oiled, because the Lynch Family Skatepark will finally open in East Cambridge this fall.

After more than a decade of planning and some financial setbacks, officials from the Charles River Conservancy announced this week that construction is finally underway on the long-awaited park.

Contractors were on hand Wednesday, armed with shovels and heavy machinery, carving out the shape of the athletic facility.

“They’re already digging out the bowls,” said Renata von Tscharner, president of the Charles River Conservancy. “It’s all very exciting.”

Crews were only recently able to get to work on the site, beneath the highway ramps to the Zakim Bridge, because the ground was frozen and the historic winter left mounds of snow.


But in six months, von Tscharner expects that skateboarders and BMX riders will be dropping into half pipes, grinding rails, and doing kick flips in celebration of the new space.

“They will be moving very fast with this project. Now that we are ready to go, we want to get it done,” she said.

Fund-raising for the skatepark began in 2003, when world-renowned skateboarder Tony Hawk’s foundation provided the Conservancy with a seed grant of $5,000. Families and skaters in the community also chipped in.

The Conservancy formally broke ground on the park in October, just months after the skateboard and apparel company Vans donated $1.5 million to top off the costs of the project.

Prior to the donations from Vans, the nonprofit agency raised $3 million in public-private partnerships with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the City of Cambridge, the Barr Foundation, and The Lynch Foundation.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation will manage the 40,000-square-foot space once it opens.

Vans plans to hold two professional skating events at the park annually, and will provide $25,000 each year for the next seven years for upkeep and maintenance at the park.


“A lot of skaters have been waiting a long time for this,” von Tscharner said.

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.