Albany skate park construction pushed to 2017

albany skate park design crop

A rendering of the planned design.

The Albany skate park project in Washington Park -- originally planned to be completed this month -- has been pushed back to next year.

"The City is working diligently to bring this project to fruition by next summer," said Brian Shea -- the chief of staff for Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan -- on Tuesday. "We have established a bidding and construction schedule with an anticipated completion date that coincides with National Go Skate Day in June of 2017."

A tip of the hat to J'mo and grandmastergus who flagged the delay in comments here at AOA.

The skate park project has been in the works since early 2014 when the city held a public meeting to gather initial input.

There didn't appear to be much movement on the idea again until this past June when the city brought in the action sports division of the design firm Stantec to head up a specific plan for a skate venue at the rundown tennis courts near Madison Ave (AKA, The Blue Banks) that serve as de facto skate spot in Washington Park. There was a public meeting and there seemed to be a sense of urgency to move the project forward, with a short public comment period and a goal to finish construction this November. The city released a design in July.

Shea said via email Tuesday that original timeline for constructing the design "would have significantly inflated the cost of the project." So the city moved it to next year.

The budget discussed this past summer for the project was $200,000, and Shea said the city does not expect the cost to exceed that figure.

Albany skate park rendering wide

Funding for the project is coming from a state grant worth as much as $100,000; $12,000 from the Washington Park Conservancy; and the rest from a pool of money the city has set aside for these sorts of projects.

As pointed out by a Stantec rep back in June, $200,000 doesn't necessarily go that far in constructing a skate park. So the design also leaves open the possibility of a phase two for the project, which could include costly items such as a bowl on the upper levels of the site.

Shea said Tuesday there's still potential for phase two, but that will be dependent on the availability of funding.

Here are large-format renderings of the design of the skate park project<.


This has been in the works since the early 90s with the Jennings admin. Hoping for the best and hoping the trannies are smooth on the big boy section.

Very disappointing. It would seem that if the promise or even potential for a phase 2 is not going to come through, perhaps it would make sense to revisit the design which was very VERY quickly determined. It's going to be a long winter, ground has not been broken, and the design pictured above is weak and certainly should be reconsidered if the budget has officially been cut from $400k to $200k, as this article seems to indicate.

there should be a couple more ledges for flat ground

I guess beggars can be choosers...

You should be happy that anything is happening, and not worrying already about whether or not phase 2 will happen. At least the city is working on something for the skateboarders.

Neighborhood Curmudgeon - usually price difference between just doing something and doing something _well_ is not that big. And that difference is usually _much_ less than price of re-doing things so that they actually work properly.

Mike is right.

Of course, the only fact that matters here is that 2017 is an election year and 2016 isn't. If you can't see that that is what this is about, you must be new to Albany.

@ Neighborhood Curmudgeon: You touch on a good point with the "beggars can be chosers" comment. I see how it can come off that way, and it gnaws at me when I criticize parts of this project. But we as citizens should stand up and say something when we think the city is going in the wrong direction on a project such as this. The way I see it the facts are:
- in 2016 it is not outlandish that a city the size of Albany have a quality concrete skatepark. It has become as normal as having basketball courts and baseball fields. While the Northeast lags behind the rest of the country in skatepark construction, concrete skateparks now exist in these smaller towns/cities in our region: Saugerties, Lake George, Chatham, Saratoga, Bondville VT, Turner's Falls MA, Northampton MA, Pittsfield MA
- the average cost of a skatepark is $40 sq ft ( That would put the cost of the 20,000 sq. ft park at Washington Park at $800K. With a $200K budget for this park, it's clear that there would have to be significant corners cut in order to build it for 1/4 the standard cost. The local skaters can see that cutting of corners in the lackluster design of the park.
- $800K is big bucks, no doubt about it. But municipalities all over come up with the money time and again, as there has been an explosion of skatepark construction all over the country over the the past decade. For instance, Turners Falls in Western MA (pop. 4,500) just built a skatepark at a cost of $391K. Burlington VT (pop. 42,000) completed a new skatepark in Dec 2015 at a cost of around $1 million
- We need to consider that this will be a regional park. There are no concrete skateparks in Albany, Rensselaer, Greene or Schenectady counties [sad face]. The region needs this park and kids/adults will come from all over the region to skate it. It needs to be a quality park.
- if the city only has $200k to work with now, you design the park in phases from the get-go. A lot of cities do it this way. From the article above, I don't get the sense that Phase II is a "real" thing in the eyes of the city. That concerns me and local skaters greatly.

@ sorry for partying: I agree completely. We were rushed into this design under some sort of tight time constraint and now we've blown past the Nov construction date. Now's the time to revisit the whole project. Design a full park of the appropriate scale for a city with a 100K population (and keeping the wider region in mind) with the plan to build it in stages as money becomes available. Concrete is expensive and lasts a long time - we only get one chance to do it right!

Grandmastergus, let an old guy clue you in: whenever a project is broken into phases, usually phase 1 is the only one ever completed. Especially with a project like this. Your instincts are right - listen to them.

So, my advice: you're right that you're getting played with this "phase" BS. Get everything you can get in phase 1 because that's going to be the only phase.

Somebody dropped the ball. The skateboard community was under the impression that grant money was at risk if a park didn't get built within months of the meeting, and that more grant money would be available if phase 1 was completed. Based on what isn't happening, I think it's safe to say that who ever is running this project (nobody knows who that is - the public has been kept in the dark since the 1st meeting back on 2014) didn't do their job. And now the skaters suffer... if I were a writer for All Over Albany, I might put the journalism degree to some use (hint hint hint)

Paul - you're on to something.

The guy "in charge" was Kathy Sheehan's appointee Jonathan Jones. Within months of his hiring three years ago everyone in the community knew he was completely incompetent. He could have been trained, I suppose, but he never was.

Here we are 3 years later and he's still in his high paying job completely screwing up everything he touches.

And now no one is really in charge of this thing, which is why you get conflicting BS information and nothing happens.

Think about what all this tells you about the Kathy Sheehan administration. They campaigned as a fresh new start after decades of old-boy machine politics. The truth is they are exactly the same as what came before.

Remember 2017 is an election year. You want a decent skate park and other nice things in Albany? Run for office or support real alternatives.

This has a been a long time coming, actually it is amazing a city of Albany's size has taken this long to get this far. It would be a boon to the city, make the area safer and more attractive to the public and bring in skate tourism which, of course, brings money to the city (raises property values!). BUT it needs a bowl, pool and some vertical because that is what rounds it out to bring in the crowds, contests, vitality and encourages users of all skill sets. Let's use the delay to push for that. What is proposed is fine but it needs to be pushed to the next level to have the kind of activity the city wants. Skateboarding will be in the Olympics in 4 years and Albany needs to be ready to ride that wave.

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