Haverhill DIY Skatepark

24 Aug 2017

diy skatepark

The 2014 to 2015 winter was "the unending New England Hell" for many of us but what was probably worse, especially for skaters, was the thaw that just wouldn't finish. Eventually Spring began to show up but for many of us the parks were out because of damage, snow on the ground or we couldn't get to them. Enter the Haverhill, MA do it yourself skatepark that was doomed from the beginning but fun while it lasted.



First a picture of some of the unholy snow that year:

diy skatepark

Not far from my humble domestic hidey hold an old New England classic, Building 19, had shuttered a location. Unknown to the owners, but known to skaters and bmxers, that storefront had some cool features. Here are just a few:

  • An 8 inch ledge one could fly off of from the storefront sidewalk or ollie onto from the lot (although lot was cratered bad).
  • A flat to small bump entry way perfect for learning to grind or curb hop using the graduated incline. It maxxed out at 5 inches or so from flatland.
  • Junk. There was useful junk laying around like an abandoned picnic table, bike rack and the occasional shopping cart.
  • It was open to view by the cops but away from the other stores. This was critical.

The first few times I hit the spot I mainly worked on building up speed to fly off a ledge or curb. I found the lot to be pretty hard on the ankles and knees so I spent most of my time on the storefront walk which is pretty wide. It wasn't long before others joined in although I know I wasn't the first.

I met a few kids there mostly, throw aways from Haverhill who would hit the spot after school. Of course they almost always were scared of an adult but once I started throwing around a few swear words and actually doing things, that went away. Oddly it didn't occur to me until: just now they might have mistaken me for a dealer.... moving on.

But that wasn't enough

When I was leaving the spot one fine freezing New England spring day I noticed the kids were getting frustrated. After all there are really only two good features at it for skaters. BMXers had it a little better, they had fashioned a weird ramp out of a busted picnic table and occasionally one would work up the courage to grind the busted up bike rack. The skaters, however, basically had a handful of ledges and flatland. So I decided to fix that.

It just so happened I had a bunch of unused material laying around I could donate to the cause. The next morning I piled an old ramp and some plywood into the back of my car and headed over to set this up:

diy skatepark

Note the spray painted smiley face, all me ... anyways .... I came back that afternoon and the kids were nailing it. Not only were they having a blast they went on to rearrange and add some of their own stuff. Of course it didn't last long. In Massachusetts skating is big because they have a Public Domain law about certain kinds of recreation. When it comes to skateboarding no matter whose property you are on if you get busted up it is your fault. Best law ever. It keeps the heat off. Unfortunately the powers that be, probably the landlord, didn't much like our park so one day a couple months later: it was all gone. Not a shred of it remained.


Still Hitting It

diy skatepark

That is not to say we don't still nail it from time to time but for my own part the spot is skated out. If you are local to the area, don't want to be hassled by the cops and are looking for a fun spot to learn or just get gnarly the abandoned Building 19 is the place for you. It isn't like it is much of a secret it can be seen from the main road. And the kids aren't the only ones who go back every now and then.