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'It feels really good now': Renovations could soon come to Matt Hughes Skatepark

Next to the newly renovated Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium sits the Matt Hughes Skatepark, a park that has been deteriorating for almost 20 years.

The park,built in 1998, is owned and run by the City of Myrtle Beach. But in the early 2000's, the city eliminated staffing for the park, tagging it as "skate at your own risk."

Now, after years of removing unsafe ramps and skating on outdated equipment, the skate park is ready for a facelift.

"We are raising money to rebuild this skate park that was built in 1998, 20 years ago," Terry Grimble, part of the Friends of the Skateparks Foundation, said. "It's about 10 years past due and the kids are really looking forward to getting a new, state of the art park built here in its place."

The city has put out a request for proposal, asking for submitted designs for new construction of the skate park.

Specifically, the RFP calls for the "construction of new concrete amenities," for the roughly 10,000-square-foot park. The construction will replace what is left of the Matt Hughes Skatepark, located between 29th Avenue North and 33rd Avenue North.

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Dylan Ferguson pulls off a trick as 8-year-old Laithon Fowler watches. Skateboarders in Myrtle Beach are raising funds and asking for the community's help to rebuild the Matt Hughes Skateboard Park after 20 years of service to area youth. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews.com

"We're looking to build a skate park at the current location, at Matt Hughes Skate park, located next to Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium," Kevin Morris, deputy director of recreation services for the city, said. "We're looking forward to working with experienced skate park and design building company, and we've got some great plans for the renovation of Matt Hughes Skatepark."

He added, "The city has budgeted $100,000, which has been in our capital improvement projects for, actually, several years with plans to construct the skate park in May of 2018. There's been several community activist groups that have, at least, planned to partner with us."

"At this time, there has been $11,450 contributed in addition from the Friends of the Skate Park, and that's the only contributions that have come in as a City of Myrtle Beach contribution to go toward the skate park," Morris said.

And for Grimble, fundraising for the park has been a priority.

In March, a fundraiser held at the Boathouse along Fantasy Harbor Boulevard raised about $8,000. The next fundraiser is at Bourbon Street along North Kings Highway on April 12. The event will feature The Aces, a band from Utah.

"It feels really good now that we've really come together and everybody understood what most of the skaters want," Grimble said. "There was some confusion last fall through the winter in the direction we should go and I think we're all on the same page and that's just refreshing and nice to know that most people are going to be happy with how this comes out."

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Sky Weyforth jumps onto a metal platform at the Matt Hughes Skatepark. Skateboarders in Myrtle Beach are raising funds and asking for the community's help to rebuild the Matt Hughes Skateboard Park after 20 years of service to area youth. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews.com

The vision

According to Grimble, many skaters under the age of 30 prefer to have a street-style park, featuring the style of architecture typically found in a city.

"The majority of the skateboarders that use the park and skate in general, what they want is a plaza-style skate park," Grimble said. "That's the style that's going to be in the Olympics, that's the style that's on ESPN Street League, that's the style that's part of the X Games."

Ideally, Grimble said, the design of the park would also feature a bowl, half-pipes and transitions for skaters over 30-years-old.

The deadline for the RFP is April 26. After, city officials will choose a contractor and a design for the skate park.

"When you have a good place to skate, and it's ran well, and there's good events and there's a skate community, kids will focus on skateboarding and stay out of trouble," Grimble said. "Skate parks reduce crime, they increase property value, they give kids something to do and get through the troubled teenage years that so many kids have trouble with."

Dylan Ferguson, a local skater, said, "I've been coming here for over a decade, so in a city, particularly Myrtle Beach where they're not too big on skateboarding in the city, it's a great place here in the community for kids to come and skate on not get harassed and in trouble."

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