Irmo approves funding for skatepark, quelling doubt it would come to pass

Posted 11/1/23

On Oct. 17, Town Council signed a contract with 5th Pocket Skateparks to design and build the proposed amenity in Rawls Creek Park.

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Irmo approves funding for skatepark, quelling doubt it would come to pass


Irmo looks to finally get its skate park.

On Oct. 17, Town Council signed a contract with 5th Pocket Skateparks to design and build the proposed amenity in Rawls Creek Park at a cost of $356,400. The balance that Irmo can’t pay through grants or other fundraising will come from the town's hospitality tax fund.

The company building the park is based out of Pennsylvania, but has done multiple parks in South Carolina, including one in Florence.  

According to Marie Ryan, a member of the Irmo Skatepark Committee, it will be roughly 8,500 square feet and have multiple amenities, including a bank to curb, ledges, a hubba/bump to ledge, down rail/bump to rail, manual pad, flat bar,  quarter pipe, bowl pocket, steep hip, flat bank hip, China bank, bank to ledge, Euro gap and a bowl.

“As far as skateparks go, it's a really diverse park,” Ryan said. “This park is really going to be able to accommodate everything from beginning skaters to advanced, and BMX, bikes and scooters and roller skates.”

This contract approval is a major success for the skatepark, as raising money for the project has been the biggest challenge for the committee. Ryan previously told the Chronicle about multiple fundraisers – including a Deck the Deck Skateboard event at Craft and Draft’s Irmo location, where they raised roughly $3,000, and a skateboard auction where local artists decorated decks, which raised about $800.

“It’s amazing, we had a lot of challenges and obstacles,” she said about seeing the project finally start to come to fruition.

Town Administrator Courtney Dennis told the Chronicle that the park should be open in roughly a year and that the town is still working out details on construction, including stormwater permitting and soil testing for the site. He added that the town is preparing a grant application but won’t know if they are awarded the grant until later this year.

The push for the skatepark has been ongoing for a couple years now, but as of this summer, how it would be funded was still very much up in the air, with Ryan telling the Chronicle the committee was applying for various grants and pushing for the town to find a way to help pay for it. That, ultimately, is what came to pass.

The language originally presented to council Oct. 17 didn’t strictly lay out that other funds beyond hospitality tax money would be used to pay for the skatepark if available, with that being changed after Mayor Barry Walker pushed back on approving the measure as originally written.

While the design and style of the park is now pretty much solidified, the name is not, with Ryan telling the Chronicle that they are looking for a flagship donor that would get naming rights.

The park itself will be fully open to the public and have adequate lighting for when the sun goes down. Ryan said the park won’t be open 24 hours, however, and will probably fit the 7 a.m.-10 p.m. schedule that many other town parks follow.

She told the Chronicle that they plan to have a way for people to rent/borrow equipment if they do not have any of their own. They also hope to host events and competitions at the park.

“It's going to help improve just the overall health and mental well being of kids in the community,” Ryan said. “We will always continue to make sure that every kid who wants to skateboard has a skateboard and helmet and pads.”

“The afterschool program that we work with has 80 kids right now skateboarding in the parking lot every day after school, and it's two blocks from where the skatepark is going to be built,” she added. “So they're very excited about it.”

Ryan said businesses will feel the benefits of local tourists she anticipates seeing out the park, adding that she has spoken with the Irmo Chamber of Commerce about packages that allow guests to scan a QR code to get a list of restaurants throughout the area, possibly including coupons.

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