Designs for skatepark in Carnegie are put on display

Doug Gulasy
| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Mary Pitcher estimates she visited between 15 and 20 skateparks in Western Pennsylvania, both before and after the deaths of her sons Stephen and Vincent.

In all that time, she never saw a park quite like the one that will honor their memory.

Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks revealed the preliminary design for Pitcher Park skate and BMX park at a meeting last week in Carnegie.

The proposed Carnegie skate park is highlighted by a 22-foot fullpipe, the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania. The closest fullpipe is in Louisville, Ky.

“I think it's very interesting,” Pitcher said. “I asked (lead designer) Micah (Shapiro) about competitions here, and he said it would draw the likes of (professional skateboarders) Tony Hawk, Shaun White and Mike Vallely. I believe they will come, especially after all the effort we've put into it.”

Skateboarders and BMX bikers attended the meeting last week to give their thoughts on the design.

Forrest Cook, 29, of Imperial said he bikes at a park in Imperial but has “gotten really bored with it” because of the amount of times he's gone. He believes the uniqueness of the fullpipe will be a major draw for Pitcher Park.

“That's really what's going to bring people in — something different,” Cook said.

Other aspects of the park include a street course and two bowls, including one where the depth goes from 8 feet to 11 feet.

Some of the skateboarders said that feature is also a rarity in the area.

“I think this is going to be a well-balanced one,” said David Ethridge, 21, of Canonsburg. “You can get a lot of speed or a little bit of speed depending on your level of progression and where you're at in skating or biking, or scootering, if that's your thing.”

Pitcher originally planned to build the skate park honoring her sons, who drowned while on a camping trip in 2008, in Dormont. When officials there nixed the previously approved plan in April 2012, she looked for other local communities and settled on Carnegie.

“It felt right,” she said. “The park setting was beautiful, and the people were extremely supportive immediately, sincere and willing to help.”

Sue Ankrom of Carnegie, whose 16-year-old son Luke is a skateboarder, became one of the park's supporters and helped raise money for the park.

“There are a lot of kids that do skateboard in Carnegie,” she said. “These kids need somewhere to go, so this will give them somewhere to go. It keeps them off the street, keeps them busy. It's a physical sport (and) keeps them active.”

Meeting attendees voiced some concerns with the design, including suggestions for more features on the street course and worries it might not be as suitable for younger skaters and bikers.

Shapiro said he would likely make some tweaks to the design based on the feedback and hoped to have a final design by the end of the month.

“The idea is that anyone from a beginner to a professional skateboarder could go in there and have fun,” he said.

Pitcher said about $35,000 of the $600,000 price tag still needs to be raised, though she said she's heard from companies willing to donate construction equipment. The Tony Hawk Foundation alone raised $500,000 to help with the project.

Glenn said if the money is raised in time, construction would begin in spring and would take four to five months to complete. Grindline is aiming for a summer finish date.

“(The first day) is going to be scary,” Ethridge said. “You're going to have to be there early in the morning (when) hopefully everybody is asleep.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or

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