February 25, 2003
It was a little after 4:00pm when the neighborhood skaters showed up to ride. The metal surfaces clanked and echoed loudly as the insides of the obstacles are just hollow shells with nothing to deaden the sound. Whenever I've ridden metal surfaced skateparks, there's always been some sort of sublayer that held it all together and deadened the noise. This park was unnaturally noisy despite the small 3' and under obstacles and slow riding speeds. People living in a lowrise a block away can hear the noise. I asked a few skaters hanging outside how they felt about the park. Not even one was enthusiastic about it. The majority accepted it for what it was, "it's a place to skate" but a few were pretty upset with it, especially with Mililani getting a skate facility that cost over a half million down the road. Wahiawa skaters said they have to deal with the stigma of Skatewave when they ride at Mililani. Mililani skaters would make fun and pick fights with them. "Go back and skate your shitty park" they'd taunt. As if Wahiawa riders needed to have their noses rubbed in it.
A skater joked the ramps were made Aloha Stadium style: built to rust.
When I mentioned Kahuku was in the process of getting a similiar Skatewave park, they were sorry to hear more skaters being stuck in their situation. The phrase "oh well...better than nothing" was repeated all through the day--even from random passerbys, as if the people of Wahiawa had resigned themselves to having to make do with scraps, while all the rich folks in Mililani got all the freshly paved roads and signs of capital improvement. "Da politicians all stay in Mililani, so they only take good care of their neighborhood" groused an old man who was watching his granddaughter climb on a nearby jungle gym playset.
But in spite of the deteriorating park with dinky obstacles, everyone was having a good time riding, heckling each other's bails and cheering landed tricks. The park employees weren't anywhere to be seen, so the skaters took to the nearby benches, manualled a section of sidewalk and practiced no complies in the parking lot--the same places they rode before the park opened.
They might not have gotten much of a park built for them with the limited budget the city had to work with, but the skate scene seems to be doing fine. They still have their secret ditches and places to seek out. The park is more of a meeting place to hang out and mess around on the mellow banked quarter and flatrails. I got the feeling the real skating was happening elsewhere...someplace more challenging than what they had here. They said their favorite obstacle was the kinked flatrail. Why? Because it was a little more challenging to ride than the rest of the park.
There was discussion of tearing down a fence and extending the park into the courtyard. Maybe building transitions into the tall side walls or making a spine thing over a 4 foot high wall that lead into the courtyard. Nick's been seen doing bomb drops off the high wall into the corner hip and Nathan did a sick frontside kickflip (caught high) hip transfer into a ridiculously skinny landing area up against a chainlink fence, and had a good line going until a poorly positioned flat bar forced him to jump off and restart.
The skaters have already managed to snap out some of the bolts on the flatbar to adjust the heights themselves and to flip the flatbar around so they could approach it from the angle they wanted.
One skater pointed out the mounting support tabs (above) on the underside of the flatbar bar stuck out too far and could catch your wheel if your board wasn't perfectly locked in sideways. Looks like a design flaw that will have to wait for an upgrade when 3.0 comes out.
A very generous "half-a-star" rating