It's mid-September but feels like October, and two new skate plazas from west to east in the Twin Cities are near completion. Up top is the Eden Prairie plaza, a revamp of a forgettable decade's old Trueride park; below is the Woodbury plaza, more or less the same story*.
Remembering back to the first wave of millennial parks around town, these new concrete developments actually seem to be a cause for optimism. For example, Fink's Twitter reaction to EP is hopeful and the photo above of the Woodbury spot seems to show that they got two things quite correct, being open space and ledges.
We've also had some time now to digest plazas (or parks; the semantics wear on me) in Plymouth and St. Cloud. The general consensus seems to be that both are at the very least a worthwhile skate here and there, with St. Cloud being the obvious "skater's choice" at the end of the day.
There is also the matter of the new Richfield park, which is reportedly somewhat of a waste of space. I haven't seen it first hand, but it sounds like it's a smaller version of Plymouth, though not laid out as well. If there's one thing we learned about Trueride parks, it's that not all of them were created equal, which absolutely must apply to Action Sports Design parks, the firm responsible for St. Cloud, Plymouth, Eden Prairie, Woodbury and Richfield.
Last Friday Night's Cocktail Question: Are we getting Trueridden, all over again? In other words, do we really want the same design firm to be called in to create essentially different iterations of the same thing all over the metro area? London Luke brought this up, in light of Richfield, and it's very difficult not to conclude that this is a bad idea, because it's already happened before.
Looking at the EP pictures above, it's easy to see a kind of "modularity" about the way the park is designed: drag and drop obstacles. Are these obstacles a (literal) big step up from the 3-foot-and-under Trueride ramps of yesteryear and (shudder) the incompetence of Bottineau Park? Absolutely. How long will "new and concrete and not fully-standardized" continue to be a step up?
Feeling cynical about these new parks/plazas isn't satisfying. A lot of people put in time with Parks and Rec departments, city councils and the like to make them happen. I'm sure care and attention to detail went into the design proceses. It's now a future matter of making cities aware that a similar cycle of park building (and now replacement) took place where a single builder flooded the area with small variations on the same thing, leading to only a brief period of contentment. We'll remind them: Concrete is much more permanent.
*Right? Never skated the previous Woodbury park nor know who built it.
Home Grown throwaway: