ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Stoked for a Skatepark
 in Atlantic City

Atlantic City could become the next city in America to build one of the popular recreational parks 
and many are coming together to help make it happen.

By Jeff Schwachter
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 32 | Posted Jan. 16, 2013

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Local skater Chad Perotte does a Fakie Inward Heelflip at the Brigantine Bridge.

Photo by Marcelo Duarte

ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY — Jason Forslund remembers when he initially had the idea to build a skatepark in Atlantic City.


 

A few years ago, after finishing a surf session in midtown, he and his friends saw “a beautiful old rundown building on Pacific Avenue,” he says. 


“The thought came to me, ‘Man, that would make a cool indoor skatepark!’ That was the beginning.”


Over the past few years, the 26-year-old founder of the Atlantic City Skateboarding Association and avid surfer has made it his mission to make his skatepark dream a reality.


First, he set up a Facebook account (which now has 1,600 followers). The Facebook page can be found by searching for “Skate AC,” a motto Forslund borrowed in part from the Atlantic City Alliance’s (ACA) “DO AC” marketing campaign.


Although there are a lot of skateboarders in the area — and even more who visit in the warmer months — there are not a lot of places for skaters to do their grinds, pops and ollies in Atlantic City.


The timing of Forslund’s founding of the skatepark association was perfect. In the fall of 2011 and through January 2012, through open forums, the Internet and board meetings, the ACA and Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) were seeking input from local residents and businesses with regard to the city’s new master plan and state-mandated tourism district.


During the late summer and fall months of 2011 Forslund had started to put together a basic business plan for the skatepark and via the Facebook page and word-of-mouth a grass roots effort began with support from skateboarders of all ages and from all over the country.


Forslund would soon learn that information about the positive effects a skatepark can have on a community and how to build them financially and environmentally friendly was spelled out quite clearly on several Web sites from around the world and jibed with what he hoped the skatepark would bring to Atlantic City. 


“Since I’ve never been a part of a process like this I wasn’t really sure where to start,” says Forslund. “[But] my last job was privately funded and I was lucky enough to participate in creating the business plan for it, which gave me a little insight into how to put such a plan together. I spent some time reading through a couple Web sites that inform advocates on the process of getting your city to see the benefits of having a skatepark and what it takes to build one the right way. The amount of information out there is vast; advocates who are successful love to share their stories of success.”


Forslund believes that the project has a lot of potential to help bring A.C. a new attraction and serve as a new cultural hub for the city. 


“If the park is well received by the people who come to skate it, like we anticipate it will be, the sky is the limit,” he says. “Atlantic City needs something that the younger generations can identify with and a celebrated skatepark is a perfect catalyst to get their attention. If promoted and programmed correctly, the A.C. skatepark will be a hotbed of creativity, athleticism, expression and culture. So much of A.C.’s image is the casinos and all the preconceptions that come with them. [Skateboarding] culture is the exact opposite.” 


On Dec. 15, 2011, Forslund attended one of the CRDA’s board meetings. He decided to rise from his seat and address the board.


“The first time I spoke in front of the CRDA board I was pretty nervous,” says Forslund. “I don’t even remember what I said. But from what I hear it left a good impression with members of the board.” 


Forslund’s first proposal, which basically stated: We need a skatepark and here is why, was included in a four-page business plan he had crafted. 


The CRDA’s John Palmieiri, who had just recently been brought in as the state agency’s head, was impressed. Following the CRDA’s release of its tourism district master plan in early February 2012, Palmieri reached out to Forslund. 


“I heard from the CRDA office a few weeks after they released the new master plan, which to my surprise, had a skatepark listed as one of 12 initiatives that the board had planned for Atlantic City over the next five years,” says Forslund. “The park was listed with a 0-2 year completion time.”


Palmieri, in an interview with Atlantic City Weekly, says the project, if approved, could be completed by “late summer.” He remembers when Forslund came to that December 2011 CRDA board meeting, just months before the tourism district master plan was due to be turned in to the state. 


“When we went through the master plan planning process, we identified so many different kinds of non-gaming uses that we want to consider and really dozens of uses were identified,” says Palmieiri. “I think that Jason might have identified this as part of the master planning process, but beyond that process, he came in and talked to us ... and kind of brought it to our attention.


“But as we began to think about it a little bit we determined that it might work well if we could deal with [the] public safety and liability issues. And I think that we can. I think that we’ll be able to figure that out and that is going to be important. We have been consulting with Tom Gilbert, our commander for the [tourism] district, and talked to the police officials about this, and so I think we’ll be able to figure out the right kind of plan. And these [skatepark] design-build guys know how to do it [right]. But yes, I think initially [the idea] came from Jason. ... He came to a board meeting [and] we decided to follow up. And that’s the way the public process should work.”


Forslund says it felt great to have his idea taken seriously by the CRDA and that the organization has been fantastic to work with. 


“My experience with the CRDA and its staff has been really refreshing,” he says. “At every meeting I’ve attended members would approach me and introduce themselves, ask what they could do to help me see my idea become a reality. I believe they took this idea so seriously because it just happens to hit every one of the tourism district criteria goals and new priorities for the CRDA and how it relates to the new Atlantic City: it’s non-gaming, it’s youth and family orientated, it gives back to the people of Atlantic City and it will help modernize the attractions A.C. has to offer. 


“From what I am told, the park will be supervised at all times by a staff inside the park, which should give parents the peace of mind that their child will be in a safe and controlled environment.”


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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 32 of 32
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1. Anonymous said... on Jan 16, 2013 at 05:05PM

“I LIVE 200 YDS FROM THE BRIGANTINE SKATE BOARDPARK. EVERY DAY THERE IS TONS OF TRASH, DRUGS, FIGHTS, TEENS HANGING OUT, BIKE RIDING, SCOOTERS, ON THE GROUNDS. THE POLICE CHASE THEM AND THEY COME RIGHT BACK.THE LIGHTS ARE ON UNTIL ABOUT 10PM BUT THE KIDS HANG OUT LONGER. I WONDER ABOUT THE INSURANCE RATES AND THE ELECTRIC BILLS. IS THIS BUILDING GOING TO BE AIRCONDITIONED ? POLICE PRESENCE ? TRASH PICK UP EVERY DAY? INSURANCE COSTS? OF WHAT VALUE IS THIS PARK IN ATLANTIC CITY? I KNOW THE TEENS LIKE IT BUT SO WHAT? IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING GOOD FOR AC AND TOURISTS TURN BADER FIELD INTO A AMUSEMENT PARK. LEASE IT OUT AND COLLECT MONEY FOR EVER.”

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2. anonymous with a brain said... on Jan 16, 2013 at 05:29PM

“1. commenter you sound like you are part of the problem you should probably just stay in your house and be scared of the world. Teens Hanging out scooters on the ground wtf are you talking about. get a life”

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3. edge said... on Jan 16, 2013 at 05:34PM

“This is a group of positive young men who sincerely want to help the area youth. I am fortunate to have worked with them on a project and their positive attitude and outlook have changed my prospective about our future leaders “from the street”.”

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4. Reel Ten said... on Jan 16, 2013 at 08:48PM

“All Caps, this sounds like an entirely different project than whats in Brig. ..”

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5. Brando Schiff said... on Jan 16, 2013 at 11:04PM

“The first person who commented is a typical head strong idiot. They'd like to give skateboarders a bad rep, but what the person is doing is just stereotyping all skaters because of what they seen in the barely-considered-a-skatepark called Brig. This future park in AC is unlike Brig on all levels. It has gives a bright future to Atlantic City non casino related attractions. Btw your idea is to make an amusement park??? Why do that when we already have Steel pier. If you made Fader field an amusment park then you'd be stealing business from a long time attraction of atlantic City. Overall what I'm trying to say is think out what you're going to say before you make an inconciterate and insulting comment like you did.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Jan 16, 2013 at 11:33PM

“you skateboarders make me sick. fn posers. get a job and take a shower. you kids ride around all day, and us taxpayers have to pay to get the marks off the roofs of buildings you make with your tires. if it were up to me, you degenerates would all get the electric chair. i saw one of you punks waczing up one of the curbs in front of my boat. i think all these lusers should spent less time rolling up doobies, and spend some more time bathing. sincerely- a concerned tax paying citizen and frequent bather”

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7. Robert Williams said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:09AM

“THE SKATE PARK IS NOT THE REASON THESE KIDS ARE DOING DRUGS AND LITTERING, THEY LEARNED THIS AT HOME FROM THEIR PARENTS. skate parks are not only inhabited by very young children on scooters who you claim are doing drugs and littering; most skate parks that are worth RIDING or skating attract an older crowd.”

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8. Skaterdudebro said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:45AM

“Yo asshole complaining about the skatepark, you're a huge fucking faggot. People like you should just get aids and die. Pussy.”

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9. Skaterdudebro said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:45AM

“Yo asshole complaining about the skatepark, you're a huge fucking faggot. People like you should just get aids and die. Pussy.”

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10. Jay Klotz said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 01:37AM

“Skaterdudebro you make the skate population look retarded when you talk like that. I dont even know if you really skate. An commenter 1.t. Ac was the 7th most dangerous city in america this year. In 2006 Philadelphia was number 20 then 4 skateparks were built in the worst areas and this year philly was number 50 on that list. I know there is a direct link. We need this park more than anything to clean up these streets. Kids need goals, influence, culture, and guidance. Skateboarding provides all of that. I will guarantee you that if the city builds this park right the Atlantic city wont even be in the top 40 in 6 years and a less dangerous city provides jobs, tourism, and good times.”

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11. Miguel said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 06:13AM

“When is it going to open”

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12. Jason Forslund said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 08:39AM

“hahaha the one about taking a bath is hilarious.”

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13. Anonymous said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 09:05AM

“people who skate have jobs sir, if they are old enough. For one, it's a mode of transportation; for kids it's a positive extra-curricular learning and growing experience...finally, if skateparks are popping up all over the country (and world) there must be more pros than cons.

When any doubters have a minute, check out the facts and testimonials here: http://www.skatepark.org/”

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14. Ann Marie Monroe said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 09:23AM

“How nice to see that young people are taking an interest in their community! Taking time out of their own lives to see that a project comes together, this is what makes a "CITY" ! Atlantic City NEEDS this project! The youth of this area NEED this skatepark to be associated with the new DO/AC attitude that has been so positive for Atlantic City! ~ SKATE/AC~”

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15. Jon Henderson said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 10:48AM

“Some of these comments are ridiculous.. A skate-park in AC is an amazing opportunity for local and transient skaters. It adds another layer to some of the entertainment that will make this city great again. We support and applaud Jason and his crew for their efforts in bringing this to the fruition. @ concerned tax paying citizen and frequent bather, Chill out son. great people have come from the state world. . @ Skaterdudebro, think before you type man. your actions or words could represent people who don't want to be represented by the stupidity coming off your keyboard.”

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16. Anonymous said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 10:58AM

“I am from brigantine and I skate the skatepark almost everyday and I can tell you a lot of things. 1. It's always empty 2. The lights are never on and I don know who the hell is stupid enough to do drugs in the skatepark considering the police check up on it and they don't "chase people out" they ask you to leave if you don't have a helmet. This is a big part if the problem is people like the first comment who make up their own opinion based on stereotypes and all the other crap they hear that isn't true. As crappy as the brigantine skatepark is its kept me busy and out if trouble and is a place where I can go have fun.what did you do when you were younger that was fun? Probably nothing but its the same thing don't hate just because you don't like it. Educate yourself first. And you'll still see me there everyday whoever number 1 is.”

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17. Kelly Russo said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:19PM

“Let me educate those who do not know what is really going on. Skateboarding and skateboard parks are keeping kids away from drugs and alcohol and giving them something to do that they enjoy. Lives are being made happier and even saved because of the efforts of so many skaters and people who really care. Check out strongholdsociety.org and you will see how lives are being saved on Native American reservations. I am totally excited about this park coming to AC and encourage others to support it because the town needs it.”

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18. Scott said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 02:26PM

“Good luck guys, you have put a ton of time and love into the project. I hope it turns out for you. maybe when we get our indoor park open you guys can roll up and say hi! Till then make sure it happens, AC needs it.”

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19. Anonymous said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 04:47PM

“Anytime there is a skatepark going in someone is going to complain just like that moron from Brig with the first comment. Lots of parks start out being monitored then they see it less and less. When that happens kids paint it, fights, ect... Few things look at Sayrville, cops just patrol it here and there and people leave and come back when they leave. Now look at Long Branch. It is monitored by a Park Rec Person, and has a tall fence about 10ft The park is closed at dusk,closed when its wet, and for a few months in the winter. There is a low rate of fighting and other bad things. The park had been received by everyone so good that they are expanding it now after a good 6 years maybe? Also this park I have never seen a dumb scooter, or a bike. If its done right you won't have problems. The only problem that happens is a park is hot for a few years then it needs to be revamped otherwise kids stop going and it shuts down...”

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20. Joe Walls said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 05:12PM

“I was born in Atlantic City 77 years ago. It's great to see young people trying to make the city a place that is good for all ages. The skateboard park in my option is an excellent idea. This is something that Atlantic City has needed for years. It is great to see young people taking an interest in trying to make Atlantic City a better place for all. Maybe our young generation will not leave the area to find other enjoyment, but stay in this area. It would be nice if they would talk about Atlantic City and this area saying that it’s great to live here!”

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21. Skateboarders mom said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 07:51PM

“If AC had any other options for these kids to do during their free time, they might not need this skate park so badly. But where do you want these kids to go when they are not in school? Does ANYONE have a better idea where the kids in AC can hang out without finding or getting into trouble? This is a great way for kids to use their energy in a positive way. And now you have the next generation there begging to help the kids use the energy and be able to connect to someone who may just put the right thought into their heads to give them a positive direction in life.”

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22. Billy Cox said... on Jan 17, 2013 at 10:36PM

“Yeah Klotz! Tell em'!”

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23. Local Booster said... on Jan 18, 2013 at 03:44PM

“First, the CRDA has commited to manning the park to control acces, safety and activity, unlike the Brigantine park. Second, it can provide recreational activities for both locals and visitors. Third, one aspect that has not been mentioned is the events potential. The Dew Tour and Red Bull both make East Coast stops. A first class park could draw serious crowds to AC (some projections are up to 30,000. The Air show generated $147/person according to reports, events such as these would bring visitors and millions of dollars to the city. Do the math. Maybe a combo surf/skate event. Keep plugging Jason.”

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24. Sal Burke said... on Jan 18, 2013 at 05:15PM

“Amen, Local Booster!!”

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25. Jerry said... on Jan 18, 2013 at 06:45PM

“This is a great thing for the city. It's nice to have something for the youth in Ac
This whole city has always revolved around green with these casinos so it's nice to see something that gives back to the actual community.
Fuck all the haters
Also it's nice that Ac weekly put something like this on the cover instead of washed up casino acts”

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26. DEFEND THE THRASH! said... on Jan 18, 2013 at 07:34PM

“What SkateAC and Local 13 are doing to get the skate park in AC is wonderful thing for the communtity and the Skate Culture . Its close minded people that have a presception that all skaters are drug using loser well there not all that way . In fact the amount of skaters that take part in drug and other illegal activies is small it just when the do it makes all of us look bad.
Ive been skating for amlost 20 years I own a home have 3 kids and I work 50 hours a week on average for one of the biggest beverage companies in the world. Skateboarding is not just for kids . Its a live style and culture that is a offspring of the surfing culture.
Everyone need to check out Skate AC's Facebook page and show them the support they need. This park is going to breath new life into AC and it couldnt come at a better time!”

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27. Brent Parks said... on Jan 19, 2013 at 12:00AM

“This is a very positive step forward for the city and the kids. I think that its great how all of the negative comments come from cowards who won't even leave their name. The same type of coward who would never in a million years atempt to get on a skateboard in fear of getting a boo boo. I will also guarantee that ANONYMOUS has absolutely no athletic ability and has no clue the skill that goes into skateboarding.”

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28. THExCULPRITSxAC said... on Jan 19, 2013 at 08:15AM

“I only pray this is the first of many cool things to come to this desperate town. AC has the potential to be one of the greatest cities on earth if we allowed it, but too many old politics and pointless paranoia don't allow this city to evolve into a modern city. It can't be all Gaming,Gaming,Gaming anymore this isn't the 80's and we are not exclusive to that anymore. AC needs Art,Music and Culture because passion drives that energy not greed, AC skaters like Jason Klotz travel far to skate because its his passion so guess why people will visit the skate park? Its simple math, Congrats to Skate/AC,R.A.D. and the C.R.D.A. I say its about time we opened our minds before we open our mouths around here GREAT JOB!”

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29. uli said... on Jan 20, 2013 at 07:06PM

“WORD!!!! Thats wat AC needs is a skate park cant fuckin wait.. I grew up here skating for the last 20 years but its not how it used to b bck in the day all the good spots are fading away those who skate here know wat im talking about its time to bring it bck to AC...”

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30. Joe A said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 01:09AM

“To post something negative on something coming to AC positive is retarded People like J Klotz and J forsland are doing a great thing ive skated since i was 12 and that was when the only park close enough without driving for an hour was brig and OC ive never seen people do drugs at either especially brig theres a police substation right outside the fence you would have to be a retard. Theres bad eggs in every sport cant punish everyone related to what ever sport based off a few idiots saying all skaters are trash is like saying the NFL and NBA are full of scumbags cause Ben Rothlesburger, koby bryant, and plexico buress are fuck ups. Atlantic City could use any improvements in any way or form the citys going to shit and needs a much needed facelift. AC needs to make locals feel safe and happy before we start worrying about tourists to be honest. but nvm that shit INDOOR SKATEPARK IN AC GREAT F' ING IDEA only wish they did this much sooner would have saved me some $”

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31. Local said... on Jan 24, 2013 at 08:54PM

“This park will be probably one of the most anticipated things for me that I want to see happen in Atlantic County area. If I'm not mistaken, this park is supposed to be one of the BEST parks ever built. Being a vert skater, I don't do much in street but I respect that it is a part of we do as a whole. This park should have us come together as one. The whole safety aspect of this is self-explanatory in the article itself. The park will be monitored by an official (maybe police or security). I don't see what's wrong with that. Yeah, AC might not have the best rep for having the most disciplined youth out there but as long as there's someone to control any action, then there's nothing to worry about. And I can't forget the whole Tourism aspect as well. Like I said, this park might be modeled after the Venice, California skatepark which might have one of the best skatepark designs out there (incorporating street and vert). The number of people coming to see this park could be big”

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32. Anonymous said... on Jan 4, 2014 at 11:54AM

“An indoor skatepark in AC would actually generate more business for the casinos. Families could visit the city and their kids would WANT to go there! Drop the kids off for a 4 hour skate session, wife visits Tanger outlets and I go hit the tables @ casinos!!! If AC would ever build an amusement park to separate ourselves from other gambling areas we could actually be proud to say we live near AC.”

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