Beaver Creek to get skateboard park
"Get off the property!"
That's what skateboarders in Marlinton and other towns hear from business and home owners, who, understandably, don't want their sidewalks and railings damaged by young daredevils.
John Harold's not a youngster, but he's been an avid skateboarder for more than 25 years and loves the challenge and excitement of the sport.
"I've been skateboarding since I was 11, when I really got into it," he said. "I'm turning 39 soon, so about 25 years. From 11 to 19, I didn't cross the street without a skateboard under my foot."
Harold decided that local government would never build a skateboard park, so he decided to build one himself.
"I'm building a skate park for kids and adults to have somewhere to ride their skateboards, besides the streets and business parking lots and curbs, where banks and what-not don't want you," he said.
Manager of Main Street Music and Fitness, Harold has been working on ramps and rails at his fiancee's property on Beaver Creek Road all summer. He expects to have the park completed this spring, with a target date on May 1.
Harold said he's concerned about the lack of recreational opportunities for local youth.ﾠ
"Keeping kids off the street and giving them something to do is definitely a good thing," he said. "They're just moping around town with nothing to do. That's usually when alcohol and drugs, vandalism, burglaries and things like that start to happen."
Profit is not Harold's motivation. Local residents will skate for free, after providing liability waivers - signed by parents, if under 18. There might be a charge for an occasional weekend workshop but, otherwise, the park will be free.
"Down the road, in probably two or three years - it's going to take us time to build it up and organize some other fun things to do - but in two or three years, we're going to have it to where it is free, during the week, and Friday afternoon through Sunday, have weekend skate camps," he said.
There's been visible progress on the park, located about a mile south of Huntersville on Beaver Creek Road. Anyone driving by can see sturdy half-pipes and steps - waiting to be connected to a central platform, which remains unfinished.
Harold is an experienced builder and his ramps appear well-built.
"I built houses for years, so I learned, structurally, how things are supposed to be done," he said. "This is not the first skate park I've built. I actually built one that was over 20,000 square feet, indoor, down in Luray, Virginia."
Harold said his indoor skate park in Luray was a popular hangout for both youth and parents, but was dismantled and given away when he moved to Pocahontas County.
Donations to a collection jar in the music store have helped pay for materials for the Beaver Creek park, but Harold has provided most of the funds and all of the labor.
"Out of my skimpy pockets," he said. "Every time I can get my hands on a dollar or two or five, here and there, I throw it in that jar, and 99 percent of the money that's going in that jar has come from myself. Every day, I throw a dollar or five in that jar and let it build up so I can go get wood."
Harold said there are a number of ways to support his project.
"If they think it's a good idea and they want to donate, they don't have to write me a check or hand me cash," he said. "If they're worried, at all, about how it's being spent, they can write a check to Lowes or to Glades, or they can go pick it up themselves. I'm keeping track of every single receipt and every penny I spend."
Harold can be contacted at Main Street Music and Fitness at 304-799-6244.