A skateboarder performs a jump over a railing.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
This summer, Israel’s teens can grab their boards or blades and head to Haifa, because a skate park is coming to town.
Not only will it be the city’s first skateboarding facility, but it will have an eco-friendly aspect as well, recycling dirt excavated from the site back into the project.
At a cost of NIS 8 million, the city of Haifa is teaming up with Oregon-based Dreamland Skateparks to build the 1,600- sq.m. skaters paradise in Haifa’s ever-expanding Hecht Park, featuring a “street course” with ramps and railings, a large skating plaza, as well as a wavy skate “bowl.”
Planners say the site will be surrounded by plenty of grass, benches, new restrooms and bright LED lighting so skateboarding or rollerblading can continue into the night.
Dreamland owner and pro-skateboarder Mark Scott, along with co-owner and wife Danielle, kicked off the latest stage of the park’s construction on Wednesday, meeting with Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav. Haifa will be home to the Scotts as well as their construction team for the next few months until the project is finished, which they estimate will be around June.
During the meeting, Yahav said he hopes the park will be a place to hold events and competitions for professionals as well as amateur skate enthusiasts.
Dubi Haimes, the contractor heading the construction team, said that they have already completed the first phase of construction, which consisted of excavations. However, they took special care to sift dirt from construction waste left behind in what was previously an open field and were able to return 6,000 tons of dirt to the ground, to serve as the skatepark’s base.
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Now the team is heading into Phase 2, which means pouring the cement that will make the twists and turns that skaters know and love.
Part of the park’s design team is top Israeli skater Avi Luzia, an Israeli skateboard champion who spent time skating professionally in the US.
He told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he hopes the park will be the next step in Israel’s ever-growing skate culture.
Luzia said that when he was growing up in Tel Aviv, there was only one designated park to skateboard, a crumbling and semi-private site.
After returning home from abroad, however, he was inspired to recreate here the high-quality public skateparks he saw in the US.
The first skatepark he designed was a 2007 venture in Tel Aviv, which he recalled was a hit from day one.
“On the first day the park was open, 3,000 people came,” he recalled. “They never saw so many people in the park before.”
Since then, he has designed several more skateparks in just about every large city in Israel and has seen the number of Israeli skateboarders jump.
“In 2007, maybe there were 300 skaters in Israel. Now, there are around 5,000-10,000 of them,” he said.
Luzia joined Yahav in expressing the hope that the park will be a draw for the pro-skateboarding world, able to host competitions and bring together Israel and the international skating world.
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