Even before it opens later this year, Cullman’s new skatepark is already taking off in earnest. Thanks to a trio of private donors, the professionally designed skate and BMX rink has received a $120,000 infusion of new funds to ensure smooth concrete and perfectly placed fixtures aren’t the only amenities.
Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism announced the locally contributed funds this week at an event held just outside the park’s northern boundary amid a busy environment of contractors and construction machinery. Parks Director Nathan Anderson said the goal is to complete the pool, ramps, railings and other skating features within the next three weeks, leaving about three weeks or so to build the remaining peripheral amenities , such as landscaping, seating, shade. areas and bathrooms.
Landscaping and bathrooms are exactly what the donated money will fund. The combined $120,000, Anderson said, was raised after a local family approached the city with an offer to contribute $50,000 to the park, if, that is, another local party would match and entered with an equal amount.
“The city had already budgeted for the park, but we knew we would need amenities — bathrooms, benches, shade and landscaping to go along with the project,” Anderson said. “We were very fortunate to have a local private donor, the Whitesell family, with a $50,000 donation. But it depended on a match. As we’ve seen many times before with other big projects, the community comes together and we’re very excited to have been able to find this match and more.”
In addition to the Whitesells’ $50,000 donation, the Rotary Club of Cullman presented the department with a check for $40,000, while the Cullman Sports, Recreation and Parks Tourism Foundation Board donated an additional $30,000 from the proceeds of this year’s Dinner on First. Ben Harrison, a member of the Foundation, said the skatepark complements Cullman’s recreational features in a unique way that many cities of similar size cannot offer.
“It was something we looked at as the community grew: ‘What do we have to offer younger people, and even older people who want to continue to have fun with their bikes and boards?’ … There’s not a lot of places you can go to do that without being on somebody’s private property or looking like you’re destroying somebody’s property.
“So this is a great opportunity for younger kids to have that safe place to go and enjoy their sport, and with the popularity of the X Games, it gives them a chance to hone the same skills they see on TV. Who you know? Maybe we’ll have a kid from Cullman that goes to the next level someday.”
The skatepark is located on land immediately adjacent to the Cullman Police Department headquarters, separated from Depot Park to the south by a large city-owned lot that is currently vacant (other than its internal use as a scene for construction equipment). Anderson said the parks department will eventually develop that property as an open-area event venue, in the process linking the entire strip of city-managed park property from the Festhalle along First Avenue to police headquarters off Oak Drive.
“It’s all going to be ‘Depot Park,’ everything,” Anderson explained. “It’s going to be a continuous park area, all the way to this wooded area right here next to the police station. The idea is to take Depot Park all the way through and connect its areas where people can use it for different activities at the same time.
Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs said the skaters and bikers who have supported the project are completely cool with the park’s law enforcement-adjacent location.
“One of the things that seemed unique to us was locating it here, close to the schools; near the police station. And skaters have embraced this idea.
“They’re really excited to have a place to skate,” he added. “Because, unfortunately, when they’re skating around town, sometimes the police have had to go and say, ‘Hey guys, you can’t skate here.’ But we’ve never had a way to also tell them, ‘But you can go skate here.” Pretty soon, we’ll be able to do that.”