New skate park dedicated in Medina ‘for all ages and all abilities’

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Family and friends of the late Luke Nelson posed prior to the ribbon cutting Saturday dedicating the new skate park in Nelson’s honor at Butts Park in Medina. From left are Nelson’s cousin Remi Gill of Newfane, aunt Dawn Powell of Newfane, girlfriend Megan Schwaibold of Gasport, mother Terri Nelson of Middleport, cousin Sarah Powell, aunt Catherine Puff of Newfane and Alex Feig of Medina, president of Medina Skate Society.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 5 September 2021 at 8:26 am

MEDINA – The legacy of the late Luke Nelson and his love of skateboarding will live on in the area with the dedication Saturday of the Luke Nelson Skatepark in Medina.

The half a million dollar skatepark is a tribute to Luke, a son of Ken and Terri Nelson of Middleport, who died from an overdose in 2017 at the age of 32.

The skateboard belonging to the late Luke Nelson was placed on display by his girlfriend Megan Schwaibold of Gasport during the dedication of the Luke Nelson Skatepark in Medina on Saturday.

Luke used to come to Medina to skate at the old park in Butts Park, where he often met with Alex Feig, president of the Medina Skate Society, said his aunt Catherine Puff of Newfane.

“He used to meet Alex and they talked about how they wanted a new park really bad,” Puff said. “Luke worked in construction and he often talked about how bad the park needed fixing up. It was his passion. He had the most amazing heart. Luke touched lives. He loved kids and he loved his nieces and nephews, who are here today.”

The family of the late Luke Nelson cuts the ribbon on Saturday dedicating the half a million dollar skatepark in his honor. At left is Alex Feig, president of the Medina Skate Society, who spearheaded the drive for funds for the park.

Puff explained how after Luke’s death his mom’s wish was to raise enough money to buy a bench so parents would have a place to sit when they brought their kids to the park to skate.

When they heard about the Tony Hawk/Ralph C. Wilson Foundation Build to Play grant, Feig formed the Medina Skate Society and an official fundraising campaign began. They applied for the grant, which was a matching grant, and in the course of a year, with community support, they raised $250,570, which qualified them for another $250,000 from the grant.

“We wanted a bench in Luke’s memory and we ended up with a half a million dollar skatepark,” Puff said. “And today we gifted it to the village.”

Alex Feig, president of the Medina Skate Society, heads down the ramp to skate in front of the crowd alongside the late Luke Nelson’s skateboard at left

The Society met with skatepark designer Spohn Ranch Skateparks, according to Feig. They insisted the park had to be all inclusive.

“It was intentionally designed for all ages and all abilities,” Feig said, as he welcomed to the crowd.

Medina mayor Mike Sidari stated how the fundraising started out to buy a bench, and now we have this beautiful skate park. He commended Terri Nelson and Feig, who he said were major players in making it happen.

“On behalf of the village board, I thank you for adding to the quality of life in Medina,” Sidari said.

Village of Medina officials participated in the dedication of the Luke Nelson Skatepark on Saturday. From left are board member Owen Toal, Mayor Mike Sidari and board members Tim Elliott, Jessica Marciano and Marguerite Sherman.

Village trustee Tim Elliott was there with his daughter Madelyn, 12, who just started skateboarding two weeks ago, because she thought it would be fun.

“Now, I can only go in a straight line,” she said. “But I’m learning to do curves. Two nice boys showed me how to get on my board properly.”

Her father said he drove by at 7:45 in the morning and there were already kids there.

“This is good for kids and good for the community,” he said. “I hope the kids respect it.”

Terri and Feig both urged people to be role models, whether they are a beginner or a professional skater. Feig added they will not enforce the helmet rule, and those who use the park skate at their own risk.

Feig added most equipment will be allowed from small bikes to rollerblades and skateboards, but no motorized equipment or remote control cars.

“Everybody just has to have courtesy,” he said. “We are all bestowed with the power to create and destroy. Just look at what we’ve created here.”

Cassie Nelson holds a sign which inspired Luke Nelson’s mother just before his death in 2017. Terri Nelson, center, tearfully shares what the sign meant to her during the dedication of the Luke Nelson Skatepark in Medina Saturday. From left are Cassie, Dawn Powell, Terri, Sarah Powell and Remi Gill.

The Nelson family concluding the dedication by thanking everyone involved in making the skatepark a reality – from the village board and Department of Public Works to the Tony Hawk Foundation (now the Skate Park Project), Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, the designer, Skate Park Society and the community of Medina.

“We appreciate you more than you will ever know,” Terri said. “I’m so proud to be Luke’s mom. He had a dream, a vision. A bench started this skatepark. I’m humbled and I’m blessed by the sacrifices so many people have made. So many people kept us strong and held us up in their prayers. The result is Luke’s vision and Luke’s dream have become a reality.”

She also said the family is starting the Luke Nelson Foundation. They hope to recruit people like Luke – to help skaters, fix their boards and help each other any way they can.

The dedication concluded with a prayer by Luke’s pastor and longtime friend, Craig Campbell.

“It’s an honor to be standing here today celebrating Luke’s legacy – to see a park bench turn into a half a million dollar skatepark,” Campbell said.