A Skatepark So Nice, They Built It Twice

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I can’t claim to know all that much about skateboarding, but that up there is looks pretty amazing. According to the video, it’s Aaron “Jaws” Hamoki at Waterfront Park in April performing a rather giant ollie for Thrasher magazine. Why’s that relevant? It’s a testament to the success of Louisville’s skatepark in bringing national interest in extreme sports to the city.

It’s a major draw for people all over, and you’re as likely to see a tourist at the skatepark as you might see walking along West Main Street. It was such a success, I suppose, that the world couldn’t stand for just one. So they built a copy in Louisville’s sister city of Perm, Russia.

Perm's Extreme Sports Park (Courtesy Artemkalina)
Perm’s Extreme Sports Park (Courtesy Artemkalina)

Look familiar?

It turns out that Louisville gifted a set of blueprints to Perm’s Mayor Shubin a few years ago when he visited the River City and now the city on Kama River now has an exact copy of our own little skatepark.

The Sister Cities of Louisville blog reported that a group of seven extreme skaters and BMX bikers dropped by Metro Hall for a—shall we say skatepark casual—meet and greet with Mayor Fischer before the delegation set off for the grand opening of Russia’s first ever extreme sports park in Perm (a bigger city than Louisville at just over 990 thousand people according to Wikipedia, although it has been shrinking over the years).

According to the Sister Cities blog:

Mayor Fischer showed a genuine interest, asking about the local Skate Park, what it needed and what could improve it. The group offered serious suggestions and recommendations and CITED several local Skate shops as the unofficial representatives of the local Skate community. Two main concerns—shade and GRAFFITI stood out (along with a lack of recycling bins) and the group had several great suggestions to tackle these issues.

Hopefully we’ll hear back from the Louisville Seven after they shred familiar ramps and bowls thousand of miles away. (And could the mayor’s interest in extreme sports give new life to the stalled second indoor phase of the extreme park?)

Perm's Extreme Sports Park (Courtesy Serg Bekshansky)
Perm’s Extreme Sports Park (Courtesy Serg Bekshansky)
Perm's Extreme Sports Park (Courtesy Aleksei119)
Perm’s Extreme Sports Park (Courtesy Aleksei119)
Perm's Extreme Sports Park (Courtesy Google)
Perm’s Extreme Sports Park (Courtesy Google)
Louisville delegation to Perm meets with Mayor Fischer (Courtesy Sister Cities)
Louisville delegation to Perm meets with Mayor Fischer (Courtesy Sister Cities)
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Branden Klayko


  1. I hope the skateboard users in Perm are more respectful of their new park and its surrounding neighbors than those here in Louisville are. Those of us who live in “Lower Butchertown” are in a never-ending battle with the skaters, their friends, and even their parents, who leave trash everywhere they go, paint the place up with graffiti, and have left their own restrooms inoperable most of the time. I do not know of any other park in the city which requires a trash haul twice a day. I walk through the Skatepark at least once a day watching the skaters and their acrobatics and I know it isn’t everyone causing the problems. But, there are problems every day. Good luck to the neighbors in Perm.

  2. Not a skater myself but I love watching people at the park from time to time and am always thrilled by how much use the park gets. I’m curious to know whether the second phase was intended to be built nearby and what additional amenities it was going to offer.

    I have never really noticed much graffiti at the park tho that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Is it really such a problem tho? By that I mean not whether it exists or even the quantity but if it is largely restricted to the park and isn’t terribly offensive is it such a big deal? I don’t know how tightly knit the skating community is but many communities can exert pressure over members to refrain from a given action if it is regarded as deviant. Perhaps those using the park are not bothered by it and, if that is the case, should the rest of us be?

  3. Hey Jeff,

    I lived in Butchertown for several years spanning both before and after the park was built. I can say with 100% certainty that since the skatepark was built, Butchertown has gotten considerably nicer, not worse. I’m not saying the park has had any impact on that one way or the other, I’m just stating a fact. As far as the bathrooms and trash is concerned, it has nothing to do with age or chosen sports pass time of the offenders. I’ll just point to you to the River Bats stadium and have you hang out in one of those restrooms for any amount of time. You’ll see mostly adults making a huge mess of everything and leaving half eaten nacho plates behind on their seats or the top of the urinal for someone else to clean up. Classy. The graffiti in and around the park is generally of pretty poor quality but there was never much quantity either. Louisville built a world class attraction that actually attracts young, creative people to the city and it is totally free. Regardless of any perceived unpleasantness that comes from it you should be proud to be near it. Of course, you could complain more and maybe get the city to tear it out so that then the bums and vagrants that hang out under the expressway nearby have more space to defecate. @Jeff Noble

  4. The skatepark is definitely a magnet for graffiti and trash. When we have our neighborhood Brightside cleanups, the two hotspots for trash are the JBS Swift parking areas along Story and East Washington, and a 1-block perimeter around the skatepark. While the skatepark doesn’t contribute nearly as many hairnets and empty malt liquor bottles as our friends at Swift, among the mounds of fast food wrappings and other trash at the skatepark you’ll definitely find several empty spray paint cans, their dried contents all over the business and civic structures nearby.

    It is pretty crappy that my neighbor needs to paint over artless “tags” nearly every other weekend to keep his business grafitti-free. I don’t care if they tag up and destroy their park. What gets me is that there is a constant flow of this mess into a neighborhood that continues to surge forward.

    The only aspect of the ORBP that I was looking forward to was the rumored closing of the skatepark. Now it sounds like we may be stuck with it. 🙁

  5. lets see…as the main person that started fighting with the city back in 1991 to get a public skatepark built, i think i have more knowledge on everything commented on so far on this post. first of all, do you remember what was there BEFORE the park? an overgrown, rat infested, trash filled lot used by no one, attracted no one to the area and was a huge blight to downtown and your neighborhood (if you even lived there then). second, have you ever seen or been to another skatepark anywhere else? our park is treated so much better by skateboarders, bmxers and the city. most parks have massive amounts of graffiti and trash, ours is by far cleaner. that being said, does it happen? yes, of course. skateboarding and bmx are done (mostly) by young kids (although i am 40) and is steeped in urban culture, which graffiti is apart of. i will say this as well, a majority of the skaters/bmxers that live here absolutely respect the park because of the stewardship/mentoring of skateshops like HOME (my former business) and TINY skateshop. floyd, derek, thom and the others that work there keep the kids straight and will often “discipline” kids that are found out to have done something wrong. when the park was first built, we were all 10 years younger and had a direct presence at the park at it was easier for us to self police everything that went on there. now we are older, with wives, careers and kids, which have all taken over as our priorities and unfortunately prevents us from being down there as much as we used to or would like to. as a result, the younger kids dont have the ability to self police…yet. i hope they learn it soon. another aspect you have to realize is the amount of out of town traffic that the park brings and with that alot of people that dont respect our park that we fought 12 years for. they might treat it better if they did. in reference to the trash, my belief is that there are so many people concentrated in such a small area doing activities that burn massive amounts of calories. put those together and that is a reason for so much trash. some people may go jog for an hour or workout at the gym for an hour. we skate/ride ALL DAY. in my 20’s, i would work 8 hours and skate 8+ hours and on my days of it was skate 16 hours. thats how it is. people kind of “live” at the park, eating a couple meals and drinking gallons of fluids…hence all the trash. also in regards to past city administrations (abramson, i am referring to yours) view of the park, i have tried over and over to get the city to do more events at the park. not just contests, by skate/bike camps, fundraisers to raise money to keep the park and the area clean, etc. only to be blown off over and over or to be told that “someone is already doing that”. um, yeah…i’ve seen those “events” all 10 people showed up. i apologize if my thoughts have rambled on, this park has been so hard to get going and now that it is around, i get really angry when people dont know what they are talking about or just complain and dont try to better the situation. anyways, thanks for the article on BROKEN SIDEWALK. i enjoy the site.

  6. sorry for the many typos and tangents. i hope it was all understood. i was attempting to type as fast as i could with a 1 year old and a 5 year old running around.

  7. Well said Sean. And I’ll add that I wonder if anyone above has noticed that a small group of skaters and businesses have banded together to raise money to repair the vert ramp? Not only did they raise most of the funds (over $3,000, and the city gave an additional $2,500), they are the ones actually DOING the work. That same group is responsible for painting over the graffiti on a regular basis, as volunteers. Trash? Shut up and deal with it. I wish kids would walk to the far corner to ditch their trash properly, but they’re not going to. They MIGHT walk 10 feet, but that would require the city to actually put out the 15 other trash cans that are for some reason sitting unused in storage under the vert ramp.

    The park is the most used park (users/square foot) in the county. And I guarantee has had more media coverage than any other park since it’s opening(not just local news coverage of pedestrians(not users) bitching about trash and graffiti). It’s a destination skatepark. Meaning people travel here specifically to skate it.

    It does more for Louisville than pedestrians realize. But they don’t want to see it. They’re never gonna see it.

    Haters gonna hate. Me, I’m gonna go skate.

  8. All that and I forgot to say THANK YOU, Sean! I was around back in the Skates Unlimited days… but was away when you guys started all the work. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  9. Sean–Excellent point about other skateparks being a haven for crappy graffiti and trash build-up. And a huge thank you for all the work you and the boys did to help make the park a reality! I recall the Skate Station days and how difficult it was to be an outsider before X/soda/extreme culture and all the work done on the behalf of the scene is completely undervalued and invaluable.
    Have any of you readers/commenters been to the park in Dry Ridge, just an hour north of Louisville? That park is always littered beyond belief, tagged, yet generally desolate; leads me to believe that the skaters aren’t actually the ones doing the mess making. Parks are places that provide the annonymity one needs to make bad art and the freedom to throw their trash. USA USA, man. Love it or leave it.

    Concretin–Thank you to your group for taking care of Louisville’s grafitti problem and for spearheading the effort to maintain the facilities there. It does, in fact, take a village.

  10. I’ve visited Louisville twice just to skate the world-class skatepark you folks have going on there. I haven’t noticed that there is more trash there than in any other skatepark. I have, however, noticed that the City needs to make sure it maintains the park, to keep it in good condition, so that visitors like me will keep coming back for more (and keep spending tourist dollars in the Louisville economy while we’re there). Thanks for the article on the park in Perm! I hope I get to visit it too someday.

  11. At 65, I am hardly a member of skate culture, but as a retired high school teacher and a lover of cities, I have to join the side of the kids. The existence of the skate park says, You guys matter. That statement goes not to the mind of the 16-year-old, but grows and ferments and matures in the mind of that kid’s adult self. That adult will look back and say, Damn, I was crazy. Yep, I made some mistakes. Sorry about the garbage and the graffiti, but life was good then and I want my kids to experience bumping up against all kinds of people and landscapes and, well, concrete. I hope they use their helmets…

    If we don’t provide places for kids where they can make their names and make mistakes, we will keep them and the city from growing up.

    Party on.

  12. trash comes with *people*, unfortunately, jeff and mike. maybe you moved to butchertown at a time when there were just fewer people? i lived on washington for several years, then moved to the original highlands which is, of course, very active. major neighborhood complaint: people littering in our neighborhood. then moved farther out, just off of bardstown road near douglass loop. major neighborhood complaint: people littering in our neighborhood.

    the skate park has become enough of a draw that it needs to be treated like other populated parts of the city, i.e., maybe the city needs to do a little more cleanup than they do. bardstown road, however, isn’t really cleaned up by the city that much. they empty trash cans and sweep gutters but we – the residents – pick up the trash we find along the streets and sidewalks. i don’t complain because the people and activity are why i’m here!

  13. @Jeff, I agree that there is a problem with the amount of trash in this area but to punish all of the skaters by removing the park would be wrong. If laws are being broken then we should enforce the laws, install cameras if necessary. As far as graffiti goes I am far more concerned with the plans by our city’s leadership to permanently vandalize our city’s image defining gateway with terribly designed infrastructure. If a leader does not have public consensus to push forward a major infrastructure project that will bury our city’s historical heart under 1950s style infrastructure…for the next 100 years than that qualifies as vandalism. The priorities represented by the downtown ORBP represent the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century and this boondoggle must be stopped to avoid catastrophic economic damage.