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Street Dreams

In April 2022, Buzz by Lindsey Hyde2 Comments

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Locals are advocating for a temporary skate park at the proposed Devereux Meadow Park. 

Rumblings of transforming 14 acres of city-owned polluted dead space into a dedicated DTR park have droned on for more than a decade to no avail. But, alas, inklings of a Devereux Meadow Park project vision are finally being set into motion. And, in the meantime, one young Raleighite is vying for it to become a temporary skate park.

While still in the conceptual design phase, the proposed urban park situated between Capital Boulevard and Peace Street—slated to become a natural, passive park including two plazas, a wetlands system, walking paths, areas for public art and more—has garnered a lot of public attention over the years, both in terms of what it could become and what the space could be used for in the process. 

But before we roll ahead, let’s get up to speed on the so-far dormant park’s status. Last year, the City of Raleigh developed three distinct designs for the park, which were reviewed by a project stakeholder committee and then presented to the public in the form of an open house. A survey was then administered to the public during spring/summer 2021 for input on preferred design—and suggestions for elements that should be added—which the city’s design team used, in conjunction with other data, to develop its current draft concept plan late last fall.

In the city’s continued efforts to include the community in the park’s planning, another survey for public comment on the latest draft proposal was recently open from Feb. 7–March 9.

Meanwhile, the park’s interim potential has sparked its own conversation. “With any park project, especially of this type … this is something that the taxpayers—the citizens of Raleigh—are paying for, so it’s very important for us in any park planning and early design process to actively engage the public as much as possible,” says Raleigh Capital Projects Manager Gary Claiborne. 

And actively engaged Raleigh’s citizens are—specifically 16-year-old skateboarder Adrian Mangano, a sophomore at Enloe Magnet High School who is spearheading the charge. While plans for an interim public use of the site are currently undetermined, Mangano, alongside a few other locals, is calling for the space to be used as a temporary skate park where area youth and adults can skateboard, scooter or BMX (bicycle motocross). They’ve even developed a website to gain support and public interest (skateraleigh.com)—though, like the park, it’s in its nascent stages. 

For those in the know, images of other mini-metropolises with recognized skate parks roll to mind—like Burnside in Portland or Skate Lab in Atlantic Beach, Florida. These havens are proven to provide area youth—and adults alike—safe spaces to ride while also keeping them off streets and city properties (e.g. government building stairs…). 

For BMX’ers and boarders looking for a place to land—or flip and fly as the case may be—a temporary skate park in Raleigh would provide an easily accessible space where teens like Mangano (and people of all ages) could gather to simply do what they love.

Right now, Marsh Creek Park on New Hope Road features the only skate park in town… and it has its limitations. For one, kids and (most) teens can’t drive—so what would only be a 15-minute commute from Downtown becomes a less appealing—if not altogether unappealing—two-hour-plus walk. 

Mangano also notes that that particular skate park lacks variety in its setup—designed for transition skating (think skating bowls) rather than street skating, which focuses more on rails and other urban obstacles. 

Without another alternative, Mangano and his friends have—like most wheel enthusiasts in town—turned to skating along Fayetteville Street and in other areas Downtown. “That also brings limitations, though, with people not wanting us to skate Downtown,” he says. Precisely what a dedicated skate park, temporary or not, could alleviate.

Adds Mangano’s father, Stephen Mangano, who supports the addition of a temporary skate park, “Where Devereux Park is proposed, it may take several years, but if we can activate that [space now] with something interesting… it’s a good kind of test case. Will kids use [the temporary skate park], and how much demand can we create?” 

Another resident pushing for the temporary skate park is Raleigh Sister Cities President Cody Charland, also a marketer, skateboarder and father to an 8-month-old whom he can’t wait to teach to skate. 

“We’re just at half a million people [in Raleigh]. One skate park for half a million people is not enough,” says Charland. “We’re growing in so many different ways, and look at the year that we’re in. … We’ve got to think about how these public spaces and park spaces can be transformed to be useful spaces.” 

So what’s the likelihood of Raleigh’s long-awaited park project answering the call? That’s up in the air. “The project design team will review the comments received during the public engagement process to work on finalizing the concept plan by May 2022,” says Claiborne, adding: “Future phases of the project—including advanced design, permitting and construction—are currently not funded, but the project has been considered by City Council for possible inclusion in a future parks bond package.”

And we should note, pitching the park as a recreational sports space, however temporary, goes beyond a place to ramp up passionate riders. It’s also a nod to Raleigh’s history, as the land was once the site of the Devereux Meadow minor league baseball stadium (hence the park name), where teams like the Raleigh Capitals and Raleigh Pirates played. (Let us please pause for a moment of silence for a time when Raleigh had its own DTR baseball team…)

Post-defunct-team and the demo of the stadium in 1979, the now-dilapidated land has mostly served as a city-owned maintenance facility. The new park—and what that land becomes in the interim, in any iteration—undeniably breathes life into Downtown.

“One of the best parts (about skateboarding) is really just the community,” says the younger Mangano. “Because when you’re skating with your friends, you just motivate each other to do better.” See you on the halfpipe? skateraleigh.com

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