After months of planning, fundraising and support, the local skateboarding community’s donation of a new vertical ramp for Centennial Park has won Lawrence City Commission approval.
The skate ramp will be built in memory of Corey Lawrence, a Kansas City native and skater who died in May 2021.
River Rat Print & Skate owner Justin Shiney, who led fundraising efforts, said seeing the commission’s approval of the donation brings him joy and satisfaction.
“It’s very exciting as we’ve been working so hard to get to this point,” he said. “Having a public vert ramp is exciting on so many levels for me.”
Shiney said the ramp will bring new skaters to Lawrence, while also providing a unique opportunity for young skaters, as the ramp’s size and build is unique within 500 miles in any direction.
As planned, the structure will be 30 feet wide and more than 11 feet tall. The steel frame will be covered by an all-weather riding surface made of paper and resin that is pressed and cured. The surface is expected to last at least five years, but Shiney said that with luck it could survive for up to 10 years. The foundation of the ramp will be composed, in part, of memorial bricks that are part of the fundraising campaign.
“There aren’t many options for riding taller ramps,” Shiney said in March. “The opportunity just doesn’t exist. It’s a special type of skateboarding that nobody gets to experience these days.”
The fundraising for the project took time, but “the community backed it 100%,” Shiney said.
“We’ve been getting great emotional support and advice to keep things moving smoothly and in the right direction,” Shiney said, adding that fundraising consisted of a merch store, T-shirt sales, raffles and memorial bricks.
The ramp will cost about $65,000, to be paid with the donation. The city will provide about $38,000 to install a concrete pad north of the existing Centennial Park, plus $1,000 to $5,000 per year for annual upkeep, according to the city commission’s meeting agenda. Here’s the plan from the agenda:Pages-from-skate-plan
After the ramp is built, Shiney hopes the park can be further improved. He hopes the city will approve an addition to the ramp for next year, the refinishing of the surface of the ramp built in the 90s, and an extension of the footprint of the park.
The city has also launched some skateboarding initiatives recently in partnership with River Rat. On Saturday, they teamed up to host an open house and intro lesson for community members to learn the basics. Parks & Rec will have skateboarding classes for kids beginning this fall.
Shiney said he couldn’t be more grateful for the community’s support.
“I’d just like to thank everyone who’s helped us get to this point,” he said. “Every kid who’s put change in the can, every person and business that’s made a purchase or donation to the park. It feels like Lawrence is working its way back on the map for skateboarding. I hope we can keep advancing our facilities and really drive this fun culture here.”
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Jack Ritter (he/him), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a student at the University of Kansas studying journalism. He is also a graduate of Lawrence High School, where he was the editor-in-chief of The Budget Online.