Many advocates believe that they cannot, or should not, begin fundraising until after they have a skatepark design.
The fact is that the skatepark design can be about 10–15% of the total cost of creating the skatepark and requires a final, approved site. If you think about it, you’ll need a lot of money just to get the design done. You can’t raise money until you have a design to show off, and you can’t have a design until you have money to pay for it. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation.
One solution for many skatepark advocates is to call the skatepark designers they want to work with and ask them for a design to show their community. The designer often suggests that they just pull one of the drawings off of their website. Is this okay? Absolutely.
You will use a “preliminary design” for your fundraising effort. The preliminary design will only reflect the type of skatepark you envision. The exact elements, heights, character, and flow will be determined later.
The biggest risk you’ll face in using a preliminary design is that the skateboarding community won’t understand that the preliminary design is just for communicating what a skatepark is to non-skaters. It isn’t meant to suggest that the design of the final park actually looks like that.
You might find skatepark companies happy to work with you. This can be a slippery slope. There really is no such thing as a “free” skatepark design. If the designer is willing to work with you early on for free, it’s certainly because they hope to have established a good working relationship by the time you have funds to spend on construction documents. (Remember, the design fees are usually about 15% of the total skatepark budget, so the “real money” is in the construction.) There are also some skatepark companies that have prepared “generic” designs that they are happy to supply to you for free. These parks are usually built entirely above-ground and are a set of ramps installed on an existing slab. These types of parks avoid all of the costs associated with design but, in the end, they don’t deliver a sustainable solution to your local skateboarders’ needs. (They will proudly claim that they are the best solution to all your problems, of course. Buyer beware!)
Be careful receiving “free” assistance from for-profit companies.
“Nothing is free” is a good rule-of-thumb while you collect resources to express your skatepark vision. Skatepark companies should be encouraging you to conduct independent research from a broad spectrum of sources. If they aren’t, it’s probably because they hope to keep your attention on their commercial products and services. This isn’t to say that these companies are corrupt; most of them truly want what’s best for your community and skateboarding in general, but they have bills to pay just like everybody else.
Your best solution is to find photos and technical drawings of the kind of skatepark your community needs and use that for your advocacy and fundraising efforts.
The Optimal Process
After you’ve identified the size of the skatepark you want to communicate to potential supporters, simply pull pictures of skateparks from the internet that depict a reasonable scale and style. For fundraising purposes you do not need a custom design. In fact, creating one (or having one created for you) is a waste of time and resources. You are encouraged to use pictures of other skateparks with the explanation that this is the “type” of park you’re working to get built in your community.
Here are a few skatepark concept drawings from a variety of companies in no particular order. (Note that the inclusion of these images does not indicate an endorsement of that company’s services or products, nor should it be considered an indication of that design’s quality or useability.)
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