Officials ‘Ready to Roll,’ Break Ground on the Lynch Family Skatepark


Image courtesy of the Charles River Conservancy

Image courtesy of the Charles River Conservancy

It’s been 10 years in the making, but on Thursday morning, officials will finally break ground on the long-awaited skatepark that will be built beneath the ramps of the Zakim Bridge.

“We are very excited, this is really a historic moment,” said Renata von Tscharner, president and founder of the Charles River Conservancy, the major driving force behind the project over the last decade.

In July, the Conservancy secured the final $1.5 million needed to “put them over the top” and get to the point where they could plant shovels in the dirt to start construction on the project. Sneaker-and-skateboard-apparel company Vans, who will host events twice a year at the park once it’s built as part of the partnership forged with the Conservancy, handed down the generous donation.

“We are really proud to be a part of this historical project and to bring a world-class skate park to Massachusetts, the original home of our founders, the Van Doren family,” said Vans President Kevin Bailey in a statement sent to Boston. “We look forward to celebrating the park opening alongside the whole community.”

Vans will also be donating $25,000 annually to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, or DCR, to maintain the park, and keep it in pristine condition year-round.

This summer, before it could break ground, the Conservancy, a non-profit organization, worked with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the state entity that owns the former wasteland in East Cambridge’s North Point Park, to transfer control of the parcel to DCR.

A contract with Valley Crest and California Skatepark, who is building the structures at the site, which includes grind ledges, rails, quarter pipes, and “bowls,” will also need to be ratified. A Conservancy spokesperson said that is expected to be finalized this month, so that the final site testing can be completed during the winter season.

From there, workers will begin pre-construction and preloading work. Come March or April, if the ground is thawed and the weather is on the Conservancy’s side, workers will start digging and pouring concrete at the 40,000-square-foot park, with a goal of completing the project within six-months time.

“Hopefully by this time next year, it will be open to everyone,” said a spokesperson from the Conservancy.

Aside from the help of the Vans corporation, the park is being made possible by a sizeable donation from the Lynch Foundation, which it will be named after.

“We supported the Conservancy for this skatepark because Boston’s youth need a place to practice and showcase their athletic skills,” said Carolyn Lynch of the Lynch Foundation. “We applaud the Conservancy for working with the State in this public—private endeavor on this challenging site.”

The park will cater to skateboarders, BMX riders, and inline skaters, and will be adequate enough in its design to accommodate professional sporting events.

The Conservancy first started raising money for the park project in 2004, and spent $1.5 million on designers, consultants, and government relations consultants to “keep the project alive and feasible” before being met by constant roadblocks, including issues with the soil at the former industrial space and brownfield. Officials eventually decided to cap the land.

Thursday’s historic groundbreaking, which will likely bring a collective sigh of relief to skaters, skate shop owners, and government agencies that have worked tirelessly to bring the park to life, is expected to draw Vans representatives, members of the Lynch Foundation, as well as Governor Deval Patrick and Congressman Mike Capuano.

“We are ready to roll,” said von Tscharner.

Click the image below to see what the design of the park, and its features, will look like: