DIY Ramsay skate park closed after being deemed unsafe
Skateboarders who built a homegrown Calgary skate park arrived recently to discover they'd been evicted from using their creation.
A fence went up November 21st around the skate park with signs saying 'the City of Calgary has temporarily closed this site for safety concerns.'
The park is called the Penguin Pit and is located in the southeast community of Ramsay just south of 9th Ave. on 8th St. S.E. It's easy to miss because it's right by the railway tracks. A group of skate board enthusiasts took it upon themselves over a year ago to build the park on a vacant piece of land.
Nathanial Coates joined the core group of builders six months ago. The 21-year-old has been an avid skater since he was five and couldn't wait to get his hands dirty.
"The crew has built all of this themselves which is unbelievable," said Coates. "lt's so cool to think that just a bunch of guys can get together and just through sheer passion be like, alright we're building the skate park and we're doing this for the community, we're doing this for a bunch of kids so they can have a place to skate, you know."
Coates estimates that the group spent about $20,000 building a dry pool to skate in. Events were held at the site with support from the community. Coates said neighbours enjoyed the park much more than the homeless camp that used to be on the site and no one expected it to be shut down.
"There was no warning, no one tried to contact us," said Coates. "They just kind of showed up, took our materials, put up a fence and then one of one of the homies just posted in our group chat and was like, hey, there's a fence up here, what the heck."
Wendy Tynan is the director of stakeholder relations and communications for the Green Line. She says the city does own the land and it will be used for future Green Line construction.
"When it was brought to our attention recently that the skate park did exist, we did have administration go out and take a look at it and it unfortunately isn't at code which does put the city at a liability," she said.
But while the fence and sign are up around the Penguin Pit, the city says it's willing to work with the young builders of the park to make it safe.
"What we're really hoping is that the individuals who invested so much time and resources into it can work with the community association and we could let them bring the park up to code and we could let them use it until Green Line construction begins," said Tynan.
The city estimates that construction won't happen for the next two years and that's good news for Coates.
"In my opinion this is way better than just an empty lot full of garbage," he said. "You know, it's helping kids out, it's better than them running around throwing rocks at stuff."