Skate Park grand opening set for April 9

By Derrick C. Parker - For The Daily Times

PORTSMOUTH – The Weghorst Skate Park, located at 337 4th Street in Downtown Portsmouth, is set to host a grand opening celebration on Saturday, April 9, starting at Noon.

The event will feature kids skate events (12-2 p.m.), an open skate session (2-3 p.m.), a skate contest (3 p.m.) as well as an appearance from Bengals’ Hall of Famer Ickey Woods. Frank and Steins Bar will also host an after hours event with live music from Goat Fudge, Hole Filler, and Mad World after the event.

“There will already be a lot of people within local skate culture,” explained Mayor and 1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne. “But Ickey will bring not necessarily involved in skating to check out the park. Maybe they’ve never been to a skate park – or seen skating at all.”

Dunne has worked on the Portsmouth Skate Park project since 2014. Now, he sees all his hard work and determination pay off.

“There were people trying to get a skate park built before I came to Portsmouth back in August of 2013,” explained Dunne, a New Jersey native. “By Spring of 2014, we started the Facebook Page. And now it’s been eight years. At first, I tried to work with the existing city council to do it…but eventually this was one of the issues I ran on.”

Dunne said he ran on a clear agenda – tell voters what he was going to do and then follow through.

“I re-presented the ideas of the people. That has to happen more on all levels of government. It’s a great lesson and it’s how democracy should work.”

Dunne said he was also pushed to complete the project because of his best friend, who died unexpectedly, was an avid supporter.

“My best friend from high school was a big skateboarder. During our last conversation before he died, I gave him an update on the park. He was really supportive of it. So, when that happened, I knew there was nothing that was going to stop this park from being built. I think he’d be glad to know it was completed.”

Dunne said he has already seen folks utilizing the park.

“People have been skating since new year’s eve. Anytime the weather is nice, you’ll see 30 or more people there on a given day…the change in perception about skating has been a big part of this. Putting it in a video game, and especially the Olympics has changed how people view skating. People used to be worried about the culture and vandalism. Now, we view it as giving kids something fun to do and building a community for our youth culture.”

Going forward, Dunne said a french drain will be installed to keep water away from the park. Rapid grow grass seed will by sown and additional signage will be erected. Eventually, more lighting and security cameras will be installed as well.

“This has been great to be a part of. There is also room for further development either like it or attached to it. But, we have a lot to be proud of. It’s the best skatepark between here and any large city. And it’s a great way to keep people active.”

It’s worth noting Mayor Dunne has yet to confirm or deny if he will make a skateboarding appearance at the grand opening.

By Derrick C. Parker

For The Daily Times