Construction starts on Medina’s new skate park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 June 2021 at 7:28 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Medina Mayor Mike Sidari, second from left, joined members of Luke Nelson’s family and Alex Feig, president of the Medina Skate Society, for a ground-breaking celebration today for Medina’s new skate park at Butts Park.

The $550,000 park is named in memory of the late Luke Nelson of Middleport. He often came to Medina as a kid and young adult to use the former skate park. He was 32 when he passed away on April 22, 2017. His family has donated to the park and helped organize fundraisers to upgrade the site.

Alex Feig, president of the Medina Skate Society, pushed to raise local funding and secure the grants for the project.

“He loved coming here,” said his mother Terri Nelson. “He would come here and skate and skate.”

Initially the family just wanted to raise money to buy a bench at the park so family and friends could relax and watch the skaters.

But the opportunity was there for a matching grant for up to $250,000 from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. Alex Feig, president of the Medina Skate Society, rallied the community to support the project.

Generous benefactors stepped forward, and many smaller fundraisers allowed the Skate Society to pass its fundraising goal, Feig said.

“It all added up,” he said. “We just didn’t stop.”

Feig often skated with Nelson and the two worked together for a year at Barden Homes. Feig said the previous skate park was outdated and there were cracks in the asphalt. The new park will be an attraction for Medina, and give skaters a safe place for their sport.

The Medina Skate Society lined up nearly $550,000 to build the new site at Butts Park. That includes $250,570.53 raised through local fundraisers and donations. That allowed the Skate Society to maximize a $250,000 matching grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

The Skate Society also has been awarded $42,000 for an Environmental Impact Award grant by The Skatepark Project, formerly the Tony hawk Foundation. The $42,000 will be used for storm water management and bioswales.

Design by Spohn Ranch Skateparks: The new skate park in Medina will have many elements for skaters, from the beginning level to intermediate and more advanced skill levels.

A six-person construction team from Spohn Ranch Skateparks arrived in Medina to start work on the project on Tuesday, following site work from the village Department of Public Works. That included removing the previous asphalt surface and adding fill for the site. The old skate park was a repurposed tennis court.

Spohn Ranch’s schedule for construction is for 14 weeks, which puts the anticipated opening of the park in early September.

Mayor Mike Sidari praised the Skate Society and Nelson’s family for their efforts in pushing for the park.

“It’s quality of life for the village residents,” Sidari. “This will be a draw for Medina, bringing people from other communities.”

Many of Nelson’s family members were part of the ground-breaking today, including his parents, Terri and Ken Nelson; sister, Casie Nelson and her daughter, Adelita, aunts, Dawn Powell and Catherine Puff; cousin, Sarah Powell and her daughter, Remi Gill; and nephew, Otice Lokey.

Catherine Puff, Luke’s aunt, said she has enjoyed meeting the many skateboarders in Medina through the fundraisers and skate jams.

“The Medina skater kids have become like our family,” said Puff, a Newfane resident.

The family has bought them pizza and cheered on the skaters when they do some of their daring tricks on the skateboard.

Dawn Powell, also one of Nelson’s aunt, said she never would have imagined she would spend so much time at a skate park.

“I’m 64 and I’m clumsy,” she said.

But she feels enriched by getting to know the skaters.

“One of the biggest blessings is getting to know these kids,” she said. “I’m so grateful we are able to do this park for them.”