“To go from nothing at all to having one small skatepark, to another one that’s being actively worked on right now,” said Kenny Shafer, president of the
“To go from nothing at all to having one small skatepark, to another one that’s being actively worked on right now,” said Kenny Shafer, president of the Richmond Area Skateboard Alliance, about the numerous new public skate parks being built around RVA. “to now being able to talk to the city about future spots; honestly, I couldn’t be happier with the way things are now”
After moving to Richmond from Chicago in 2010, Shafer found a thriving skateboard culture featuring skaters young and old practicing styles that span the history of the sport. But all this love of the craft was missing something: a public skate spot available to the community.
Shafer’s first foray into organizing a new skate park came with the establishment of Fonticello Park in Forest Hill. “Where it really started to turn was there was a skate spot near my house, near the tennis courts on 28th street,” said Shafer, explaining his first exposure to collaboration with other Richmond skateboarders. Despite this early project running into complaint issues with the surrounding homeowners, Shafer said “it was really then that [he] started getting involved with skateboarding in Richmond and the community at large.”
What began as a collection of makeshift ramps on an old tennis court became the first public skatepark in the Richmond area, with Fonticello Skatepark opening in September 2013, following a year-long bureaucratic process and heavy collaboration between Shafer and other local skateboarders.
Following this, Shafer and those he collaborated with during the 28th street project formed RASA, or the Richmond Area Skateboard Alliance. Although the Fonticello project was the first successful effort to get a public skatepark in the area, not everyone who wanted to have their voice heard was able to do so, and that was the first issue that RASA sought to correct. “The way that it was designed from the outset was that we would act as a voice for the skateboard community to talk to the city about getting spots built and built the right way,” said Shafer.
Despite the problems that Shafer and RASA ran into with the city in the past, the Richmond Parks and Recreation department have been much more supportive with the group’s recent efforts. “I think that, for the first time that I’ve ever heard of, the Parks and Rec department reached out to me and said ‘hey, can you meet and let’s talk about some other stuff?’” said Shafer.
RASA has recently been collaborating with the city to develop another skate park in the Texas Beach neighborhood, currently being in talks with to build up a skate park to replace what is now a small DIY spot in an empty lot of land.
The group plans to start pouring concrete for the Texas Beach skate park early this summer.
You can donate to RASA through the Enrichment Foundation or through their Facebook.