THE DIY PARKS BUILT DURING COVID

November 30, 2020/ Larry Lanza/ ARTICLES/ Comments: 18

photo: zack danna

Whether it’s an unevenly poured quarterpipe or haggard bowl corner, DIY parks are the cornerstones to a lot of skate communities. It’s the meetup spot that you never leave, the hangout spot when you’re too hungover to actually skate, and the safe haven for all the unsafe things us skaters do.

Contrary to what you may think, the parks don’t just pop up. They take a lot of time, manpower, and money to get started.

During the ongoing COVID pandemic, those resources were readily available, and we saw a surge of DIYs popping up across the skate world. To shed some light on the hard work and creativity that some people put in we reached out to a few DIYs that caught our eye to showcase their work.

Just remember, if you’re going to pull up to any of these spots after reading this, be respectful, clean up your beer cans and water bottles, and don’t fuck with anything that looks like it’s drying.

photo: ezra franklin

Mosquito Beach (LIC DIY) – Queens, NY

What was the plot of land before it was a DIY park?
It’s a standard NYC dead end. There used to be signs of nightlife there. One day I found a bunch of roses, then some red panties, and then a used condom. Probably from the strip club across the water. Standard city shit.

Where does the name of the park come from?
Mosquito beach? Just go in the summer. Bring your bug spray.

Did you have to get permission from anyone to build there? Did you just barge it and start building?
Just barged. Maybe initially just nudged our way in. First big thing just looked like a jersey barrier at the end of a dead-end. The neighbor is pretty cool about it though. We keep it cleaner than it used to be.

photo: elias parise

Have you any trouble with cops or civilians while you were building stuff?
Oddly the only problem we have had is with certain people building there. We welcome them with open arms, help them build their shit, chip in time amd money, and share resources. But then they think they own it. Which is strange in these times when people are clearly talking about colonizers and how Columbus sucks. People are strange. But that is a small thing. Skating or seeing people skate stuff we have built is the best. Getting people hyped is such a great feeling. I think it’s important to try to empower people. If they see something is possible or are part of making something happen, they can spread that energy and motivation to others.

How much money has gone into the build so far? How did you raise the money to do that?
I’m not sure what the total is. My approach is usually to foot the bill and hope for some kindness. But I started keeping a ledger of any donations and expenses to keep it straight. I’ve given money back to people if it wasn’t needed at the moment. We have also been able to feed it forward to other DIY stuff.

Do you keep the location a secret? Or is it a known spot?
I never give direct locations. I’ll give hints but it’s pretty obvious. And only to those who have helped or chipped in. At the end of the day, it’s a public space. If I wanted a private space, I’d pay rent somewhere and skate by myself.

What made you want to start this project?
The same ideas and motivations that have always driven me to do CODA or anything else, just to give back to the community that has given me so much. Making stuff with your friends is fun. Skating it with your friends is fun. Sharing it with new friends is fun.

Pat Smith

photos: josh terlesky

FERAL CAT COVE – Portland, OR

How did you pick the location?
I lived right down the street from the location for about three years when my buddy Red and I found it. It had already had a parking block creted to a curb and the wild bolder feature. Then, we decided to add the tight quarter to the front and I started digging out from behind the barriers. About a year later I met a homie skating the quarter who was super pumped and we started pouring the COVID bowl.

Where does the name of the park come from?
There are a ton of feral cats that live along the bike path, I have a good relationship with a gentleman that works with the feral cat coalition to help strays find homes. We meet just about every Sunday morning as he is feeding the neighborhood strays and I do clean up.

How much time has gone into building the park so far?
I got laid off of work on March 13th. We started building on March 20th. We put in at least an eight hour day, one day a week. There have been so many hands in on this project and I am so grateful for all the support we’ve received.

How much money has gone into the build so far? How did you raise the money to do that?
Christ! Ol’ Donny Trump sent us some really cool checks. It took us a while before we started asking for crowd donations, and we have been making t-shirts to help with funding. Until the city rips us out, there is no finish. Donations are always appreciated!

Has there been anything sketchy that’s happened at the park yet? Do any people live there at night time?
Oh yeah! We can talk about the people who live on the bike path, meth RV’s, or the dude that was cranking it in the middle of the bowl to a dead crow in broad daylight. Nighttime gets a little sketch.

What’s the policy on drinking beers at the DIY?
Don’t crush your deposits and take your trash. As always be respectful of the neighborhood and others sharing the space.

Josh Terlesky

photos: zack danna

CHERRY BRK – Phillipsburg, NJ

What was the plot of land before it was a DIY park?
Rumor has it that it was an old brick depot that shut down during WWII when the owner found out they were selling bricks to Japan, but we don’t really know. It was a massive warehouse that burned down around 2012.

How much time has gone into building the park so far?
We have about 20 homies that did every Sunday builds through summer 2020.

How much money has gone into the build so far? How did you raise the money to do that?
About $1300 crowdfunded grassroots style. We have some big obstacles planned.

Do you keep the location a secret? Or is it a known spot?
You gotta know a guy.

Has there been anything sketchy that’s happened at the park yet? Do any people live there at night time?
River people cook on the ramps at night, and tweakers live in the bush around the area. I’d stay vigilant.

Do you have anything you want to add about the DIY?
It was awesome to see everyone in the local skate community come together to lend a hand, bring food, and donate. We could not have done it without the homies, thank you for the support!

Zack Danna

photos: dylan shanahan

NATIONAL DIY – Milwaukee, WI

How did you pick the spot where it’s located?
The spot was a long time junkie/bum spot, so it was, at that time, aptly named “Bums Nest.” That also just happened to have the longest and arguably best slappy curbs in the city. We were skating the slappy curbs when our friend Robby suggested we build a little transition on this dilapidated wall.

In the beginning, we didn’t know shit about working with concrete. Luckily, we had a couple of friends who showed up. We built this gnarly transition and had a blast and soon we realized that the spot is just far enough away from where people live where it doesn’t bother anyone.

What was the plot of land before it was a DIY park?
A shithole park & ride. Day one was Juan, Robby, and I out there with trash bags cleaning up the place. Condoms, needles, you name it. It was gnarly.

Did you have to get permission from anyone to build there? Did you just barge it and start building?
We just started building and haven’t looked back. We’re still in a gray area. The cops rarely bother us, and because we’ve kept it clean and keep the kooks away it seems to be actually improving the surrounding area. I’ve seen families come hang out. It’s wild. We’ve been slowly building a relationship with some of the businesses nearby.

The staffing agency donated a trash can to us and gives us trash bags when we run out. I know we’re regular entertainment for the paramedics that chill there waiting for a call. Taco trucks pull up sometimes too! It’s pretty chill overall.

How much time has gone into building the park so far? How many people have been working on building the park?
A ton of time. We’ve been building since the beginning of May [2020] and people come and go, but it’s been about five or six guys that do most of the fundraising, planning, and building. Quite a few locals have shown up and helped too. Not to mention all the skaters who pause their session to come help/watch. It’s fun knowing you’re learning together and meeting people you maybe otherwise wouldn’t have.

How much money has gone into the build so far? How did you raise the money to do that?
My guess would be around $4000 or $5000. Initially, it was all out of pocket but now we’ve switched to crowdfunding. We hit our Gofundme goal for $1000 in two weeks.

Has there been anything sketchy that’s happened at the park yet? Do any people live there at night time?
Some sketchy stuff has happened. Some fights, some creeps who got shooed away, some folks who didn’t get the memo that it wasn’t a park & ‘ride’ anymore (if you catch my drift), a gun was pulled on someone one time, junkies talkin’ shit.

What’s the policy on drinking beers at the DIY?
It’s Milwaukee.

Dylan Shanahan

photo: adam jeffreson

WERNSIDE – Leeds, UK

How did you pick the spot where it’s located?
The spot kinda picked us, our crew has been building stuff for a few years. The local skate park has been trying to get something going in a bit of wasteland, so we thought, fuck it, it helps them out and we were sick of all our shit getting torn down super quick.

Where does the name of the park come from?
Werner Herzog! The German director. We were just talking shit about him when we were building the spot, and it was one of those things. It’s just Wernside now. Like when people ask why we there isn’t really an answer, you can just tell them, “Watch Fitzcarraldo you’ll understand.”

It’s kinda nice to have a deity though, we’ve got some pictures of him up, a little shrine kinda thing. I’ve tried to hit him up about it, but yeah, don’t think he’s into it.

photo: reece leung

Have you any trouble with cops or civilians while you were building stuff? Have you gotten any tickets or summons?
The locals are usually stoked we’re building stuff, it’s never really the cops that get you up here, it’s the landowners every time. Once they find out you’ve built something it’s over. It can be the most random bit of wasteland in the middle of nowhere but they’ll come and smash the ramps and still not build anything on the ground. It’s a fucking waste.

How much money has gone into the build so far? How did you raise the money to do that?
Yeah, so loads of different stuff has kinda come together at the same time for this one. The park was the first to put money towards it, concrete and blocks and stuff to get us started. After that, we got a load of donations of concrete, and the builder was dropping us off blocks to use so we’re still kinda riding on that at the moment. People keep coming through with concrete too, one of the lad’s Grandad is stealing them from his work for us which is pretty jokes.

There’s been a couple of weird corporate hook-ups too, which are always kinda funny, RedBull got involved and shipped us a pallet of concrete and sand and stuff which is cool. They’ve actually helped us out on two or three spots before, they’re always worth hitting up through the local shop or whatever, they’ve sent us some concrete pretty much every time we asked, it even comes in RedBull concrete bags. It’s a shame the drink is poison because they’ve sent us the cans a few times and you can’t even give that shit away.

photo: reece leung

Do you keep the location a secret? Or is it a known spot?
Totally known, hit us up on Instagram. When lockdown is over, come and get on a build. Anyone who contributes is welcome anytime. A lot of DIY’s kinda have to be pretty exclusive just because if they get too busy they’re fucked, not to mention all the assholes that will just trash the place at night. We don’t have to do that at this spot so it’s cool just to like, drop a pin for it on a story and see who shows up with a shovel and gloves.

What’s the policy on drinking beers at the DIY?
The more the better. When we started we kept finding garbage bags full of cans of cider that had sat in the sun for months. I think even those have been drunk now.

photo: keegan

What made you want to start this project?
Who wouldn’t want to start this one? If you grab any group of skaters and say, “There is a spot with water and free rubble; you can build anything you want, nobody will fuck with you and we’ve already got some concrete.” Who’s really gonna turn that down?

Building a DIY is one of the best things you can do, hands down. There’s so much different stuff going on and everyone brings their own little quirks to the table and you end up building really unique and interesting stuff. Not to mention all the good times just chilling and skating the place, every hour you put into it you get hundreds back in return.

Adam Jefferson

photo: tone marcus

BISHOP – DETROIT, MICHIGAN

How did you pick the spot where it’s located?
The spot picked itself. If nobody else is using it, skateboarders will. This one was right under our noses the entire time. It’s directly behind Northwestern High School, one of Detroit’s most know spots. People here get bored quickly and are always on the hunt for the next spot to build. This spot in particular (Bishop) popped up around April [2020] when local Jamison Shaffer brought some wooden stuff up there to get a feel for it. It didn’t take long for cement to start popping up after that.

What was the plot of land before it was a DIY park?
It’s an old pad of cement that used to be a roller / ice skating rink next to an abandoned rec center. A Detroit Classic.

photo: evan hutchings

Did you have to get permission from anyone to build there? Did you just barge it and start building?
It was definitely barged. Once things got going, a couple of the guys building asked me what they could do to make it legit and make it last. I work for the parks department, so I inquired about the land and now we are working on adopting the construction and maintenance of the land similar to what we did with The Wig [another DIY Spot]. Ideally, that’s something you’d do beforehand, but people here are hungry. They just want to build.

How much time has gone into building the park so far? How many people have been working on building the park?
It’s only been going since April, but since then it’s been fun to watch. It’s unique in the sense that almost every obstacle has been built by a different crew. Young skateboarders, old skateboarders, rollerbladers, everyone is putting in work. I don’t think you really get that in many other places, that’s what’s great about it.

photo: evan hitchings

How much money has gone into the build so far? How did you raise the money to do that?
I can’t speak on the total. It’s coming out of a lot of different pockets right now. The couple of things we built with Community Push (long quarter, and three-sided bank to curb) only cost $1,200. Everybody has been very resourceful in terms of backfill, reinforcements, blocks, and coping. Put all that money in what you can’t find lying around somewhere.

Do you still need more money to finish it?
Who doesn’t need money? And what DIY is ever finished? There is no use to try and build it all at once. Go piece by piece and get a feel for everything before you go too much too fast. Not even being a year in yet, this one is shaping up very nicely. I’m excited to see where it goes.

What’s the policy on drinking beers at the DIY?
I don’t write the policies, and enforcing them certainly isn’t my job.

Derrick Dykas

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Comments

  1. alfred

    December 1, 2020 2:22 am

    Why only the USA? jenkem?
    Cool article though.

  2. Chris Dobstaff

    December 1, 2020 3:57 am

    Leeds is not in the USA mate.

  3. Izaac Morrison

    December 1, 2020 5:05 am

    Check out @arches_diy on Instagram,

    Scotland based DIY

  4. 1dollarapplejuice

    December 1, 2020 9:34 pm

    rip freo DIY

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