Local Skate Park Offers Quality Ramps on Dangerous Ground

Iolas Riverside Park offers skaters a place to go, but its condition leaves something to be desired.

Iola’s Riverside Park offers skaters a place to go, but it’s condition leaves something to be desired.

Brayden Barnes

Skateboarding as a hobby has grown quite significantly in the public eye. It has had surges and places of interest over the years but with its addition to the winter olympics, skateboarding has gripped a new generations attention. In response, there has been a focus put into giving this new generation along with the existing fans somewhere to practice and hone their talents. Spring Hill, Kansas, the town I graduated from has started construction on a brand new skate park, and Butler Missouri, another town I frequently resurfaced their skate park not too long ago. They made these changes because they saw the growing interest in the hobby and I think that may be exactly what Iola may need for our skate park.

Riverside Park has a skate park right at the entrance. It is one of the first things you see when you pull in. Locals have described the park as “small” and “dinky,” but that is all a matter of opinion. To some skaters it may seem pretty small or cramped but for a lot of skateboarders that come from smaller parks or even no park at all, that park has just what you need. 

The skate park has a few ledges, a couple small gaps, a couple of larger gaps, a fun little box and some surprisingly good sized ramps. It also features a near perfect mini half pipe which is the perfect size for most people to find some fun on it and just big enough for an experienced skater to still get their use from it. It is an overall very well laid out park with the kind of flow that only an actual skater can design. All of the ramps and obstacles are very nice to ride and in pristine condition. There is just one glaring issue that makes this park almost unusable for anyone that is not very experienced on a skateboard.

The biggest and one of the only few problems with the whole park is that the ground sucks. There are a large number of cracks littering the pavement, and not just talking about small cracks or relief joints. An Iola parks department worker informed me that most of the big damage was done when the park was submerged in a flood that happened in 2007, which caused one to two inch wide cracks running the length of nearly the whole park. It might make it easier if the cracks where not in inconvenient locations but they are all in some of the worst places imaginable.

Some cracks located in Iola’s skate park are even bigger than the wheels of a skateboard.

One of the thickest cracks is right smack dab at the bottom of one of the long 5 foot tall bank ramps. I learned that the hard way as that was the crack that brought my attention to how dangerous they were. My first skate session in Iola I slammed super hard when I rolled right into the crack not taking it into account. Since then there had been many times I have nearly lost it while setting up for a trick as I mentioned, they are all in terribly inconvenient locations (i.e. right before each obstacle). 

All hope is not lost though. Resurfacing a skate park is not that difficult. The ramps and obstacles are all very sturdy and modular units that can be easily picked up and moved with a tool such as a forklift or a truck with a crane lift. At that stage it would be as easy as pouring a new pad of concrete then putting the ramps back down on top of it. I have seen it done at a park with much more concrete and significantly bigger ramps. 

A city worker I spoke with on the phone told me that he had just had a lengthy conversation with a resident who is interested in starting a fundraiser for the skate park, although he mentioned “they have not budgeted money for the skate park for this year or next year.”

We went on to have a conversation where I gave my advice and experience as a skateboarder and someone who has seen this very fix done. I think it has been raised to their attention how dangerous this problem is compared to how easy it would be to fix and I believe it may have given them new information to go off of and maybe even caused a small amount of reconsideration.