The smell hit me as I came up the rise on one of my runs through town that are becoming more infrequent with each passing week.
Not to complain — working too much is an absolute pleasure compared to not working at all.
Anyway I smelled it as I chuffed along the overpass that runs over the train tracks near downtown: the distinct urethane cloud that hangs over an area that has been recently spray-painted.
At the apogee, I could see them down there, a group of kids in the impromptu skatepark, their most recent work drying on the open walls. The space looks like a terraced parking lot, though there’s no access from the road. I have no clue as to the original purpose of this concrete backyard divot, but it’s a skatepark now, decorated with the finest street art in the city.
I paused at the top of the slope to watch them: They were carrying a huge flared pipe like pallbearers, setting it in the open plane. They drop their boards and push off; I get my feet moving downhill.
In 2006, voters in Greensboro passed a $5 million parks-and-rec bond that included $575,000 for a municipal skatepark. The project languished in that no-man’s land created when a bond is passed but has not yet been issued, while possible sites rotated, plans changed and grew.
Ironically, voters turned down a bond for a swim center in 2006, but it passed in 2008 couched inside another parks-and-rec bond. The Greensboro Aquatic Center has been open since 2011, right around the time the skatepark bond was issued for sale. We’re still waiting on the park itself, which was proposed as part of the Griffin Recreation Center planned off Hilltop Road but, according to a January 2014 project report, funds have not been released, and council has asked staff to look for another location.
The kids I saw on my run were probably in grade school when the bond passed eight years ago. And they may be done with skateboarding altogether by the time the city builds the one we were promised. Maybe they’ll be able to take their kids there. Or maybe they’ll have moved on by then, to another city where skaters don’t have to make their own parks.