COLUMBIA -- A planned skate park at Owens Field has gotten a boost -- with a $25,000 Tony Hawk Foundation grant to help build South Carolina's first custom concrete park.
Construction for the 15,000-square-foot skate park could begin as soon as March, officials say.
The grant was awarded to the nonprofit group Pour It Now, which has been working to get a new skate park. The previous park, also at Owens Field, was dismantled in 2007 to make room for a school track complex.
In addition to the grant, Columbia officials have committed about $450,000 to build the skate park, said Damon McDuffie, the city's parks planning manager.
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Columbia was one of only three communities nationwide to get a $25,000 grant, with 24 others receiving smaller amounts, according to Ryan Cockrell, president of Pour It Now.
"The big deal for us is that the city showed such a huge amount of support for the project," Cockrell said. "Their commitment to it is really what made the Tony Hawk Foundation want to buy in."
Efforts to reach officials with the Tony Hawk Foundation, named for the former professional skateboarder, were unsuccessful.
McDuffie said the grant will help the city build the park more quickly.
Officials will begin taking bids by the end of this month and hope to build the park for about $500,000.
Depending on how many bids the city receives, construction could begin by late March or early April. McDuffie said the park should be completed by July or August.
The park will be built between the parking lot and a line of trees at Owens Field -- or hole No. 2 of the park's disc golf course.
The disc golf course, home of the state championships in October, already has had to relocate two holes to make room for Dreher High School's track. Ed Garris, with the Columbia Disc Golf Club, said he hopes to have the hole replaced in time for the state tournament in October.
Wally Hollyday, a California-based state park designer, is designing the facility, which will include a mix of features for street and transition skating.
Street skate parks mimic the stairs and ledges of downtown buildings, while transition skate parks have large ramps, or half pipes, that allow skaters to gain speed and jump higher.
Cockrell said concrete skate parks are superior because they provide a smooth surface for skaters, which reduces the risk of injury, and they can withstand the weather than wood or metal better.
And, Cockrell said, it just looks better. "It's basically a 15,000-square-foot sculpture that we are putting in there."