Finally, cool places where boarders can skate in style

Skate parks have bowls, halfpipes and ramps

Outside: sports, activities, events

March 04, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer and Greg Romano | Sarah Schaffer and Greg Romano,SUN STAFF

Cities have long been a haven for skateboarders, and Baltimore is no exception.

The urban landscape is a little bit of paradise for boarders, offering wide sidewalks and a tight mesh of zig-zag streets that are perfect for picking up speed. And the city's parks and squares stand dotted with traffic barriers, stone monuments and other architectural features that just beckon for someone to attempt a skate trick.

But many such spots have been deemed no-skate zones by local officials. In fact, wheeling down the sidewalks of Charm City is an illegal activity that can lead to a citation, and getting caught while attempting a boardslide on historic property may land you in trouble for trespassing.

But there is an alternative to the sometimes dicey sport of street skating.

To the delight of law enforcement and skate rats alike, some local governments and private businesses have opened a number of sports parks dedicated to the decades-old pastime.

"It's a lot safer. You don't have to be worried about being heckled by cops," said Jason Chapman, owner of the Charm City Skatepark on O'Donnell Street.

The facilities, each of which has a slightly different skating environment, from California-style bowl skating to street-influenced rail courses, have become popular with both novice and experienced skaters.

That's because of the atmosphere, Chapman said.

With all legal distractions removed, participants can return to doing what they love: skating.

The following is a LIVE guide to some local skateboard parks. Call for up-to-date information on times, rules and lessons.

Charm City Skatepark

4401 O'Donnell St., Suite B.

This indoor park offers lessons and features a sweet bowl, six pyramids, a spine ramp, flat bars and handrails. Food services, a video arcade and a pro shop are also on site. Participants must complete a waiver prior to skating the park.

Call 410-327-7909.

Cockeysville Skate Park

Galloway Road, Cockeysville.

The Department of Recreation and Parks' new 12,000-square-foot facility features 15 pieces of skate equipment. A waiver is required before skating. Registration is required.

Call 410-887-7734 or www.co.ba.md.us.

Stansbury Skate Park

7880 Stansbury Road, Dundalk.

This Baltimore County-sponsored park, which opened less than a year ago, is suitable for both intermediate and beginner skaters. It contains a five-foot half pipe, pyramids, spine ramps, jump ramps, speed ramps, as well as standard grinding rails and platforms. Registration is required.

Call 410-887-3478 or visit www.co.ba.md.us.

Gaithersburg Skate Park

506 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg.

This 12,300-square-foot park, which opens its 2004 season April 1, is home to a halfpipe, a mini spine ramp and two street obstacle courses. There is also a video game console and a parent observation area. Waivers are required. Costs vary depending on residency and time of skate session.

Call 301-258-6350 or visit www.ci.gaitherburg.md.us.

Aberdeen Skateboard- ing Alliance Project

300 Rear Center Road, North Deen Park, Aberdeen.

In its third year of operation, this outdoor park is attracting a lot of Baltimore area skaters. Two halfpipes, a large pyramid, bench and rails slides and a high-low box are among the pieces featured. Admission is $5 for a single-day pass, and waivers are required.

Call 410-939-6767.

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