Skatepark design and construction is the phase of skatepark development where everything comes together. The results of your planning, advocacy, and fundraising are arranged like pieces of a complicated machine, ready to be turned on for the first time. If all goes well, the product should be a skatepark that meets or even exceeds your vision.
Understanding how skatepark designers and builders are contacted and hired is important. Knowing the process will help you avoid bad decisions and ensure that you get the kind of skatepark you have been planning for.
A few things need to happen before construction begins. These are usually the City’s responsibility.
1. Project Design
- Schedule and budget (designer and city)
- Site analysis and geotech (designer)
- Final design approval (community and designer)
- Construction documents (designer)
- Permits (city and/or designer/builder)
2. Builder Hired
- Advertise bid opportunity (city)
- Contract awarded (city and builder)
- Bonding, Insurance (builder)
- On-site work begins (builder and designer, sometimes)
Skatepark designers and builders—we’ll refer to them collectively as “skatepark vendors”—are hired by the managing agency, usually the City or its Parks Department, to produce the skatepark.
The City can’t simply hire whomever they like. There are rules and legal requirements in place to prevent corruption and ensure that the public gets the best value for its tax dollar. Because skatepark design and construction is not widely understood by people outside of skateboarding, these rules can sometimes put the skatepark project into the hands of people that don’t have any experience.
In the simplest sense, laws dictate that the City hire the company that is least expensive. Cities realize that they don’t want everyone and anyone bidding on every project that comes along. It would bog down the system with applications from people that clearly have no qualifications. So cities create “pre-qualifiers” for their projects. The pre-qualifier essentially says, “you are invited to bid on this project if you have completed at least 5 concrete skateparks within the last 2 years, and are bonded (insured) in the State of Wyoming for $1,000,000 (for example).” Now those companies that build houses and highways and office buildings cannot bid on the skatepark project…only qualified skatepark vendors can. This establishes constraints that hopefully improve the chances of the skatepark turning out perfect.
There are three principle ways of approaching the hiring of your skatepark designer and builder.
One company is hired to both design and build the skatepark.
One company is hired to design the skatepark, and another company is hired to build it.
3. Sub-contract Award
One company is hired to construct a public park containing a skatepark. A skatepark specialist is hired by the company to build just that portion of the large park.
Each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses. We will examine the details in the next section, Developmental Scenarios.