Funding will boost new skate park planned for underneath the Zakim Bridge ramps


Mary Moore, Boston Business Journal

After 10 years of trying, the Charles River Conservancy has landed the final $1.5 million it needs to build a 40,000 square foot skate park under the ramps of the Leonard P. Zakim Bridge in state-owned North Point Park.

Sneaker-retailer Vans, which is a subsidiary of VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC), has committed the $1.5 million along with another $25,000 a year for seven years the company has pledged to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation for ongoing maintenance of the skate park. The founding family of the Vans brand – the Van Dorens – are from Massachusetts.

In the last decade, the Charles River Conservancy raised $3 million for the project, much of which has paid for design and preparation work for the site, said S.J. Port, a spokeswoman for the Conservancy. The park area, which will occupy a small portion of North Point Park’s total 8.5 acres, is a former brownfield that needed to be converted to public use.

The Vans donation is the amount the Conservancy needed to move the project to the groundbreaking phase, which is scheduled for the fall.

Between now and then, the state Department of Transportation, which now owns the land, must transfer it to the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The transfer is part of a 20-year-old agreement between the two agencies, which requires the the state transportation department to transfer land to the Department of Conservation and Recreation in exchange for park land used for the Big Dig, Port said.

Once built, the skate park will be managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation that caters to skateboarders, BMX riders, in-line skaters, scooter riders and athletes in wheelchairs, according to a press release from the Conservancy. The park also may end up being a venue for professional skating events, the release said.

In addition to the skate park, North Point Park has two playgrounds, an open lawn and a waterfront area. Vans plans to hold two large-scale, professional skating events at the park each year.

The park was designed by the engineering, architecture and design firm Stantec, which is headquartered in Canada and has a Boston office, and landscape architecture firm Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc., in Boston.

“The public–private partnership that brought this project to fruition will continue to provide recreational opportunities and a world-class wheel-friendly destination for Greater Boston’s skateboard community,” said Jack Murray, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, in a prepared statement.

The Lynch Family Skate Park, as the new park is called, will be named after the Lynch Foundation, which donated to the Conservancy’s fundraising effort. Other contributors included the City of Cambridge, the state, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Conservancy’s press release said. The foundation of legendary skate boarder Tony Hawkcontributed a seed grant of $5,000, which launched the Conservancy’s fundraising effort in 2003, according to the release.

Other donors include 400 individual skaters and their parents who also provided input on the skate park’s design, the release said.

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