Skatin’ along

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

In a city where basketball is king, Clay Smith is trying to give the area’s skateboarders a place to play.

Smith, a 16-year-old freshman at Christ the King, has been working since he was 13-years-old to get a skateboard park built in the city of Selma.

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According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the United States has an estimated 800 skateboard parks across the nation.

The Association also mentions that there are over 13 million boarders nationwide.

Smith falls into that demographic. He has been a boarder for six years and has one board that he uses primarily. There were seven others before the current one.

At the age of 13, Smith sent a business letter to Selma Mayor James Perkins.

In the letter, Smith wrote: &8220;I think we need more recreational things for children and teenagers to do in Selma. I think it would be nice for all of us to get together and build a skateboard park.&8221;

The letter was received, and meetings were set up between the youth and the mayor.

According to a an article that ran in the Birmingham News, the cost of a skate park that is currently being built in Columbiana is an estimated cost of $125,000 .

Smith brought his idea to a larger audience last week when he made the suggestion at the town hall safety meeting held at the Selma Convention Center.

According to Perkins, the search for a suitable location for the park would also be a factor in its construction.

Right now, there are four true and dedicated skateboard parks in the state of Alabama. Three are in the Birmingham area, Vestavia Hills, Homewood and Alabaster. The fourth is in Montgomery, a handful of blocks up from the Montgomery Civic Center.

The one being built in Columbiana will be the state’s fifth, a reflection of the growth of the sport.

Right now, Smith and his friends skate at places like the courthouse or St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Skateboarding isn’t a sport without risks.

There is also the question of parking and maintenance of the facility, once it does get built.

Reece has been in contact with Game Time, a firm that builds Skateparks throughout the state.

A skatepark doesn’t have to be a completely new construction, in the movie Lords of Dogtown, which focuses on skateboarding, and its ascension into the mainstream old, unused swimming pools were used as parks.

With all that in consideration, the Mayor, like Smith is behind this project.