The Ypsi Skatepark

During the last episode of Dreamland Tonight, we were joined by a fellow named Dug Song, who told us about efforts currently underway in Ann Arbor to build an enormous skatepark. I personally think it’s a great idea, but I didn’t let that stop me from giving Dug a hard time about their proposed million dollar structure. Among other things, I asked why skateboarders felt as though they deserved to have a park built for them on public land, while furries had to make due with rented, second-rate conference centers. I also asked why building a park for skateboarders was any different than, let’s say, building a giant castle for larpers to chase each other around. Anyway, during that discussion, I also took the opportunity to show Dug video of the unofficial Ypsi Skatepark – an abandoned Sunoco station at the intersection of Washington and Cross, which skaters have augmented with a few foot-tall cement ramps and other handmade structures. And, here, in case you weren’t with us for that show, is that footage of the Ypsi Skatepark, which was shot and edited by Dreamland Tonight’s very talented Carrie Morris:

Anyway, the reason that I mention it tonight isn’t to make the case for Ypsi moxy, over Ann Arbor money, but because I heard a rumor that what we’d been jokingly referring to as the Ypsi Skatepark may not have very long left. According to a well-placed source, folks at the Firehouse Museum, which sits on the other side of Cross Street, are thinking about clearing the land and using it as a parking lot. I don’t know that it’s the kind of thing that we as a community would try to fight, as the structures could likely be moved elsewhere, but I thought that I should mention it in case anyone wanted to organize a resistance effort. (Any ideas on alternate locations?)

I don’t know that I’d chain myself to the old Sunoco or lay down in front of a bulldozer, but I really do think that this is a wonderful piece of Ypsilanti, that illustrates perfectly the beautiful resourcefulness and ‘make it work’ attitude of Ypsilantians.

Oh, and as for the Ann Arbor Skatepark, they just publicly unveiled their site design, and it’s pretty damned cool.

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  1. Kim
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I don’t get the Michigan Firehouse Museum. Is it ever open? It looks to me like someone’s private collection of old fire trucks that they call a museum in order to secure a more favorable tax status or something. I withheld judgment for the first half dozen years or so, thinking that they’d finally get their act together, but I don’t see that happening.

  2. Posted May 24, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Man, I’m sorry to hear the Ypsi skate project may be challenged. The Burnside project in Portland I mentioned had similarly humble roots, and ended up being hugely successful:

    The original builder behind Burnside, Kent Dahlgren, went on to become executive director of Skaters for Public Skateparks ( ) – an excellent resource for anyone considering building a skatepark in their community.

    We worked hard with the Ann Arbor parks staff to find a location near downtown, with free parking, on a bus line, to be as accessible as possible to folks around the county, and have been thankful for the support of Ypsi skaters, artists, and parents who’ve supported the project to date. We’re through most of the political process, and on to serious fundraising – definitely a challenge in this economy, but every dollar counts.

    Thank you for helping us carry the conversation forward, Mark. It’s amazing to see the level of creative, engaged, and inspired civic discourse in Ypsi, and gives me a lot of hope yet for Ann Arbor. :-)

  3. Edward
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Did I read that right? Did you equate Furries and Skateboarders?

    Beautiful video, by the way.

  4. KT jr.
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Great video. Makes me proud to be from the scrappy little city of Ypsilanti.

  5. Posted May 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Is your well-placed source the owner of the property? As far as I know, the Firehouse Museum would have to acquire the land before turning it into a parking lot, which would require the owner to be interested in selling / leasing it.

    Or are you saying that this vaunted Ypsilanti moxy extends to the Firehouse Museum, and they’re just going to go in and do it one night when nobody’s looking, without bothering with the whole acquisition thing?

    While you consider your answer, I think I’m going to go turn the vacant buildings in Parkview Apts. into my own personal LARPing castle…

  6. Mr. X
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I knew Murph was a LARPer. I knew it the first time I met him. It was at a city council meeting. He came over and introduced himself, and, as he was walking away, I distinctly remember mumbling “LARPer” to the guy standing next to me. That guy, by the way, was David Kirtcher. He laughed, and patted me on the back.

  7. Posted May 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    move the skate park? maybe to a better place? OK too… as long as it’s in Ypsi for Ypsi kids to have access to it… nice that A2 is building a million greeny that i’mm hoping Ypsi kids if they wanted to can get involved in as well… but one of their own closer to home is even better… so the move? from what i can see there’s plenty of room indoors as well… and better yet in wintertime… i’d vote to move it somewhere like that to the kids could enjoy it all year round…
    and yeah… what is it with that Firehouse? looks to be like the local car museums no on any kind of schedule either…
    Any one want to get involved in a mmusic mural?

  8. Michael
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m outraged! Where are the parents and coaches? Who’s making sure the are properly hydrated? Do they even stand a chance at regionals? Have they secured a location for the awards banquet?

    Ypsilanti should be ashamed.

  9. Knox
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Great comment, Michael.

    And, FWIW, I think it would be great if this beautiful stakepark, when finished, was overtaken by mating furries. I have a sick sense of humor, but I’d love to see it become an international spawning ground for furries.

  10. Ted
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I’m going to take your lead, Mark, and start lumping Furries, LARPERs and Skateboarders together. It just makes sense.

  11. Posted May 25, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what LARPing is but if it involves a castle, I say Ypsilanti needs it. :)

  12. Dottie Tom
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I like the video best before pressing play, specifically, how the stoner skater is tightly sealing his troubled anus with his kickass board. Somebody should piece together a DIY porta-john to help the brother out.

  13. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    So, the cement slab that was the foundation of the former 555 gallery building was not removed durring the Water Street demolition, and due to a cost over run in another area of the project, probably will not be. It’s one, great big, nearly perfect patch of cement. And the city is looking for temporary uses for all of the Water Street property. All I’m say’n, is that some kids with some pushbrooms could have a great place to skate or play roller hockey. Or maybe outdoor roller derby.

    Just say’n.

  14. Ypsi Skater
    Posted October 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know who the owner of this property is, or how to find out? Also where is this Water Street Gallery lot located more specifically?

  15. Smelly Tongues
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Ok so I’m months late in reading this post but I always thought that the old abandoned warehouse/factory/whatever it is across the street from the Corner Brewery would make a great indoor/outdoor skatepark and/or our own Ypsi ice rink. It would take a ton of money to make it happen though. If the concrete were fixed up in the lot it would be perfect for skating.

  16. Mr. X
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    It looks like The Man might be shutting down the Ypsi Skate park.

  17. J Beistle
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    You need to come out and cover the new Ypsi Skate Park.

  18. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted September 29, 2011 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Adams School is in support of the DYI skate-park at Prospect Park. The principal at Adams has said drug activity has slowed in the area with so many kids skating…

  19. R2
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations are in order. Dug just secured $5 million for his startup Duo Security.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] just noticed this at the Ypsi Skatepark a few minutes ago. I suspect someone not from around here is responsible… Anyway, it made me […]

  2. By Ypsi/Arbor Exit Interview: Miro Lomeli on September 15, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    […] I have fond memories of the little skate park that popped up at the corner of Washington and Cross, in the shadow of the abandoned gas station. I don’t skate, but I loved how people seemingly came […]

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