Words by Erwin J. C. Davis
Far from the boardwalks of California where it began, skateboarding has found a home in Alabama. It’s an activity that transcends any geographic, economical, or cultural boundary. As with most things in the south, a certain flair for the friendly and hospitable are showcased in Hoover’s newest skate-based community endeavor, Skate Alabama.
Johnny Grimes serves as founder of the organization and has been on a warpath to break ground on the vision for a skatepark in his town for two years. Most projects of this nature are stunted by major factors of litigation. Things like securing land to develop, city mandates for safety and recreation, a viable business plan, long-term maintenance of the facilities, and building codes tend to halt skatepark projects in their tracks, nationwide. And that neglects to mention the most crucial detail: who is going to build it?
Well, as stated before, Grimes has been on a warpath.
Though the creation of the non-profit, he’s been able to solidify an eighteen-thousand-square-foot plot of land to be donated by the city of Hoover for the build. That takes care of land and the city’s support in helping maneuver through the red-tape. Additionally, he’s been able to begin talks with Spohn Ranch — an organization responsible for the design of dozens of remarkable skateparks across the country — on a collaborated build of the park once funds have been accrued. So, that takes care of the big bad blueprint. Grimes has also been heavily involved in generating buzz about the project, as he and his wife are currently on the frontlines and in the back-office of Skate Alabama. In just under eight-hundred days, the Grimes’ have been able to accomplish seventy percent of what kills projects like this before they start rolling.
So, one might ask what’s next? It’s an answer anyone could see coming a mile away.
“We have it estimated to be about $800,000-$1,000,000 for a full build,” says Grimes on his latest Facebook update to his followers. He says that the amount, daunting as it may be, would ensure the vision of the park’s accessibility to skaters of all levels would be achieved. He goes on to say that a blending of obstacles that serve the hobbyist, as well as the professional, is the aim of the facilities.
As of June 2022, Birmingham will be the home of its own new skatepark, City Walk. Built buy international team New Line Skateparks, the groundbreaking inclusion of skateboarding into the cities targeted activities for recreation gives Grimes and his followers hope in Alabama’s community of board-riders to offer financial support. Brought upon through similar fashion, the skatepark’s christening shows an underlying desire for citizens of these southern cities to have a house-of-gnar to call their own.
From the moment he saw the plot at Finley Center, he says his vision of what ‘could be’ was set. “We’re looking for people who have a desire to help,” Grimes states. “It’s something we’ve been working hard to get going and now is the time for us to make it happen.”