The idea of converting one of Lincoln Park’s unused tennis courts into an above-ground concrete skatepark is perfect for many reasons.

Located directly under the bride of the Spaghetti Bowl freeway interchange at I-10 and US-54, it primarily offers shade protection from El Paso’s hot summer sun.  When it rains, the bride provides a roof to keep the concrete dry.  Pre-existing light fixtures extend hours after dark. It’s centrally located. The price tag is do-able.

Estimated cost? Between $20-50k depending on design. Existing slab on grade keeps the cost way down. Construction of above-ground skate obstacles is done by saw cutting the slab, epoxying rebar dowels/cages into the slab profile, and forming up.

Slab conversion anatomy

Misiano Skateparks is king of the flat slab conversion. This 2014 project in Jacksonville, Florida shows how it’s done properly. Tony Misiano is a really cool guy who has helped many city’s replace dilapidated prefab ramps with this type of construction at a reasonable price.

At last check with the City of El Paso, a project under the $50k price point qualifies as a “small park improvement” which means the project would not have to go out for bid which ultimately helps keep design/construction cost down.  Raising 10’s of thousands for a high quality concrete skatepark (instead of a million-plus) instantly becomes an attainable community goal.

So…the El Paso Skatepark Association (EPSA) started probing and laying the groundwork to make this project a reality. Foremost, folks have to understand that Lincoln Park is the Chicano arts and cultural epicenter of El Paso.

Lincoln Park Conservation Committee

Getting the blessing of the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee led by Hector Gonzales and bad ass pillar artist Gabriel Gaytan is the starting point, period. With help from Radio La Chusma bassist/local promoter Charlie Villanueva, a November 2015 meeting was arranged to discuss the benefits of a flat-slab concrete skatepark conversion.

Gonzales and Gaytan were both open-minded, but expressed serious concerns about skateboarders using the park’s sacred amphitheater circle. Wax applied to the short ledge around the circle was dirty and melting down onto the ledge artwork. A “no skateboard” sign was posted and being ignored. Still, both guys were cool and agreed that creating a more attractive skate spot on the tennis court area was a great idea that could help deter skating in the sacred circle.

Additionally, Gonzales and Gaytan embraced the proposal to make the flat slab skatepark conversion “Chicano art-centric” by design and thus, complimentary to Lincoln Park’s famous, large-scale pillar murals. Both men were already familiar with San Diego’s Chicano Park skatepark – an excellent example of what could be done here.

Chicano Park – San Diego

Located under the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan, the Chicano Park skatepark celebrates Tenochtitlan style and Chicano art/culture with bright colored murals and 4-sided, lowrider quarterpipe.

Chicano skatepark build

This above-ground concrete skatepark was built by Gallagher Concrete in summer 2015 (as part of a $1 million whole park improvement) and partially funded by a $10k grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation obtained by The Urban Corps.

EPSA arranged a meeting with City of El Paso Parks officials on March 7, 2016 to further discuss potential for a skatepark conversion at Lincoln Park. EP Parks Director Tracy Novak and Assistant Director Joel McKnight focused on the City’s required process, potential funding streams and the need for TxDOT approval.  Turns out, the City has an agreement with land owner TxDOT to use the property as park space, so…an identified funding source and approved set of construction plans are needed before getting the green light from TxDOT.

A follow up meeting with City officials was held on August 30, 2016 at City of El Paso District 1 City Representative Peter Svarzbein’s office. Dionne Mack from City Manager’s office and Joel McKnight from the Parks Department to further discuss the potential for such a project.

Looking forward, the steps to making this vision happen include:

  1. Verify the $50k price point for small park improvements with District 8 City Representative Cissy Lizarraga
  2. Hold the required community meetings to make sure the public/neighborhood is in favor
  3. Make basic skatepark design concept/construction documents for City Engineering Dept. review/approval
  4. Pursue funding sources – grassroots fundraisers, grant applications, Community Development
  5. Get approval from City Manager’s office and TxDOT
  6. Solicit bids from qualified contractors
  7. Build skate spot

Donate to Lincoln Park skatepark project

You can help make this project a reality with a tax deductible cash donation using your credit card or PayPal account. Click the PayPal button to get started. Make sure to indicate your donation is for the Lincoln Park skatepark under “add special instructions to the seller.”

Knuckle contest – July 17, 2017

Skaters flocked to Lincoln Park on July 17, 2017 for manny contest held by Knuckle Boardshop’s Mark Martinez and EPSA founding member Gabe Lawler.

Just toss a few ramps under the bride on a rainy day and watch the boys create! Thanks the Mark for sharing the killer footage helping inspire the Lincoln Park skatepark project moving forward.