Skateboarders are stoked over Belmont's new park

·3 min read

In skateboarding terms, thrashers (avid skaters) have good reason to be stoked (excited).

Belmont's new skateboarding park has opened complete with a bowl, rail slides, ramps and a beginner's area.

“The day it opened, I mean, you had people coming all the way from Raleigh…surrounding cities, other states as well because they heard about this park,” said local skateboarder Amari Brown, who gave the park high marks for both advanced skaters and newbies to the sport.

Los Angeles-based design company Spohn Ranch, started construction of the park in front of the CityWorks building on Catawba Street in December. It has already become a magnet for area skateboarders.

“It’s a great addition to the community,” said Alex Ormaza, a member of the Gaston County Parks and Recreation advisory board. Ormaza has been skating for 36 years and has always been attracted to the creativity of the sport.

Larry Manke flips his board as he tries out the new Belmont Skateboard Park on East Catawba Street during the skate park expo held Saturday, June 25, 2022.
Larry Manke flips his board as he tries out the new Belmont Skateboard Park on East Catawba Street during the skate park expo held Saturday, June 25, 2022.

“It’s gonna do a lot for the youth and the adults,” Ormaza said Thursday afternoon. “I mean, half the people you see here, right now, are in their 40s and 50s and it’s just something that’s good for everybody.”

This park creates a safe place for skaters to come practice their love for their sport. Brandon Gordon, a skater from Clover, South Carolina, was inspired by skaters like Tony Hawk and says that this is the perfect environment to practice.

“Ten years ago, you know, 18 years ago, skateboarding was illegal in town,” Gordon said. “…they’ll take our boards.”

Dylan Messina and his scooter try out the new Belmont Skateboard Park on East Catawba Street during the skate park expo held Saturday, June 25, 2022.
Dylan Messina and his scooter try out the new Belmont Skateboard Park on East Catawba Street during the skate park expo held Saturday, June 25, 2022.

A covered area provides shade for those who may not be skating. Gordon’s father, Gary Lawing, sat in the shade as he expressed his gratitude for Belmont’s decision to build the skate park.

“There’s not enough of them,” Lawing said. “The sad part is all the cities and police think that people that skate are thugs. That ain’t true. Everybody that you meet is like family.”

Born in 1959, Lawing said they didn’t have skateboards when he was a kid. Instead, he would make homemade skateboards by taking apart steel skates and nailing them to a two by four. Today, he can see his son skating with friends in a brand-new skate park.

“You meet a lot of friends,” Lawing said. “I know he has.”

The decision to build a park was made following multiple tragedies. In 2005, 13-year-old Belmont Middle School student Trevor Gray was struck by a car while skateboarding. In 2018, another local boy sustained a serious injury after hitting a rock. Both died shortly after their respective accidents.

Brandon Gordon, of Clover, South Carolina, checks out the new skate park on East Catawba Street in Belmont Thursday morning, June 23, 2022.
Brandon Gordon, of Clover, South Carolina, checks out the new skate park on East Catawba Street in Belmont Thursday morning, June 23, 2022.

“The idea behind this skatepark is to get people off the street,” said Ormaza.

Although people always get hurt in any sport, Ormaza said that having a skate park will help reduce the possibility of injuries. “I want this to set the precedence for the surrounding towns,” he said. “Every town should have a skatepark.”

Belmont will hold a skate park expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the skatepark, which is open from dawn until dusk seven days a week.

Luc Séguret, a rising senior at Western Carolina University, is working as a reporter for The Gaston Gazette until he returns to school in August. He can be reached at 828-206-2544 or email him at LSeguret@Gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Belmont opens new skateboard park