PHOTOS BY // MICHAEL GLEASON PHOTOGRAPHY
IN OUR AGE OF POLITICAL DIVISION BASED ON ALL SORTS OF HUMAN CATEGORIES, IT IS REFRESHING TO FIND A PLACE TUCKED AWAY IN THE OLD TENNIS COURTS OF THE SWARTZ CREEK GOLF COURSE WHERE THE PREVAILING ATTITUDE IS “BLACK, WHITE, GAY, STRAIGHT, SCREW IT, LET’S SKATE.” ON APRIL 20, AT A SKATE JAM AND BARBECUE BENEFIT, MICHAEL WRIGHT OF FLINT’S FACTORY 2 ANNOUNCED THE PLAN TO COMPLETELY REBUILD FLINT’S SKATEBOARD PARK WITHIN THE SWARTZ CREEK GOLF COURSE AT 1902 HAMMERBERG RD.
Originally opened in 2008, the skatepark began as a local DIY project, getting the ramps from a nearby Grand Blanc park facility. Due to the massive national and international resurgence of interest in skateboarding, the makeshift park was heavily employed last summer, and by spring of this year it showed the wear and tear of this increased demand.
With an eye toward maintenance, expansion and even possible full reconstruction of the current facility, Jennings Harper, the owner of Brush Alley Skateshop, along with Nick Welch, Dan Wilson and others in the skateboarding community, organized to rehab the makeshift facilities they had. On April 20, they put on a barbecue benefit at the park and constructed a GoFundMe page to raise additional dollars. However, even before they hit their funding goal, they simply went to work.
“We just decided to do it,” Harper says. “The ramps weren’t made to last forever because they were made with wood. We ‘Frankensteined’ them and got this up and rolling again.” As it turned out, they did a good enough job to attract enough local skaters to practically drive the ramps into the ground.
The creation of a genuine venue with proper supervision for this sport in Flint could not be better timed. Skateboarding will be making its debut appearance in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and it is about time that Flint has a professional quality skate park. Local athletes have remarked that just about every significant city in Michigan except Flint has a professional quality park. Currently the volunteer organizers have been working with the City of Flint to bring this site up to professional standards by hiring a designer and coordinating their efforts with proper concrete construction and safety criteria in mind.
Flint’s skateboard community deserves to be able to look forward to this makeshift environment being upgraded to the sort of venue that should make and do them proud.