Lynch Family Skatepark to open mid-November
CAMBRIDGE — Construction workers in hardhats and bright vests occupied the steep bowls Monday of the Lynch Family Skatepark.
But by next month, the scrape of their trowels will disappear, replaced by the clacks of skateboard trucks hitting the lips of the park’s many obstacles.
After more than a decade of planning, fund-raising, and designing the site, crews from California Skateparks and ValleyCrest Landscape Development, the project’s general contractor, plan to wrap up major construction this month.
Workers will then turn their attention to tweaking and beautifying the ramps, basins, and ledges of the 40,000-square-foot park, before it formally opens to the public on Nov. 14, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“It feels wonderful — it’s amazing,” said Renata von Scharner, president of the Charles River Conservancy, the nonprofit group that led the project.
The skatepark, named after the Lynch Foundation, which donated $800,000 to help fund the park’s construction, is located beneath the busy highway ramps near Interstate 93, just beyond the jutting cables of the Leonard P. Zakim Bridge.
Nancy Schön, the artist known for her Tortoise and Hare sculptures in Copley Square, joined forces with von Scharner in 2002 to start planning the park’s design. Schön became interested in helping find space for a park after learning that skateboarders were doing ollies over her artwork.
A year later, major fund-raising for the site began, and the conservancy received a seed grant from professional skateboarder Tony Hawk’s foundation.
A number of organizations, families, skateboarders, and other individual donors contributed funds for the park over the years, and kept the momentum going.
The Conservancy finally broke ground on the park last year, after the footwear and apparel company Vans donated $1.5 million to the project.
The space was once a brownfield, a wasteland born of the Big Dig. Now, it features elements replicating once-popular skateboarding sites from around Boston. Its smooth, flowing design — stairs and railings lead to flat surfaces and ramps — wraps around the columns beneath the overpasses, which will protect skateboarders and in-line skaters from the elements.
Kanten Russell, one of the skatepark’s two lead designers, will conduct a “skate-through” in November, and test the obstacles prior to the grand opening.
He said the landscape is fitting for New England skaters.
“It looks like it’s an East Coast landmark. When you are walking around in there, I think you do feel that,” Russell said. “I definitely feel like it’s something that is long overdue and needed. I think everyone is going to be really happy with it.”
The Department of Conservation and Recreation will manage the skatepark once it opens. The Vans company has earmarked an additional $25,000 annually, for seven years, to help with park maintenance.
The department and Cambridge officials also announced this week that they will provide LED “sports lighting” at the park, to keep it lit up when it’s dark.
Von Scharner said there were “definitely times” that she and many others feared the park would never materialize, because the obstacles, including obtaining a site and securing finances, seemed too big to overcome.
But standing at the park on Monday, as she surveyed the landscape of dipping ramps and railings, the excitement was visible in von Scharner’s eyes.
“It’s right in the heart of the city,” she said. “This was no-man’s land. It was waste land. ...But it will become the focus point of a real exciting, growing neighborhood.”