In 2018, Hamburg resident Timothy Carrig’s son received a skateboard for his fifth birthday.
As a self-proclaimed hands-on dad, Carrig knew the best way to teach his child to skate was to learn to skate himself—at 39 years old. This was an admirable act of devotion; and when you’re a father of seven, such devotion is required with every given day. What Carrig didn’t understand at the time that his pledge to become “Skater Dad” was simply his first promise.
His second came once he was introduced to the horrible shape of his town’s threadbare skateboarding facilities, set a stone’s throw from the shores of Lake Erie. Faced with learning to ride with his son amid conditions unsuitable for any level of skateboarder, Carrig made another decision.
“I promised my son that Hamburg was going to get a new skatepark,” he says. “That was all the motivation I needed [to get started].”
Three years later, that promise is inching closer to reality. Planned under the moniker of the Hamburg Skatepark Project—and supported with a $250K matching grant through the Built to Play Skatepark Program—the new skate expanse will be set inside the Town of Hamburg’s more inland Carnegie-Scranton Recreation Area (or Electric Park), and replace the dilapidated lakeside ramps that went underutilized for years. Though still in the fundraising stages of their efforts—but now armed with $125K of support from the Hamburg’s town government, approved November 15—Carrig’s team has gained needed support from both community members and area businesses, and plans to meet their financing goal by February 2022.
Throughout the below Q&A, Carrig discusses Hamburg’s current skateboarding facilities, his favorite fundraising memories, and how a new skatepark could fill a needed void inside Buffalo’s southern suburb known simply as “The Town That Friendship Built.”
Question: What made you realize that Hamburg was in desperate need of a new skatepark?
Timothy Carrig: Being on my board and learning to ride showed me how terrible the conditions are at our local skatepark. It’s placed on aged, pitted asphalt. The skating surface on the ramps is lifting, causing separations between boards; and the coping on some of the ramps is removable at this point. The skate community has done their best to extend the life of these fixtures, but with better concrete parks 30 minutes away, they'd rather spend their time elsewhere.
Q: I know you’re still fundraising, but has there been a significant memory from the ongoing experience that’s been special to you?
TC: The one that sticks out to me is how proud I am of my son. I asked if he wanted to come with me to keep me company at [Hamburg] Farmers’ Market stand. To my surprise, he completely took over. Not a single person could pass by without him calling them over to talk about our project; and he was able to raise over $1K just by handing out free stickers.
Q: What type of fundraising initiatives do you have planned in the future, and when do you think you’ll reach your match number to advance to the next phase of the project?
TC: Our next big push is going to be focused on sponsorships from local businesses. We'd like to do a meat raffle and a movie night soon, but we're still working out the details [with each]. We are currently looking into some possible grants to help us reach our goal of a full $250K match, too. If all goes well, we’re hoping to reach our goal by February 2022.
Q: What do you hope the skatepark does for Hamburg’s present and future?
TC: The presence of a local skatepark will be huge for our community. When I was a teenager, the [McKinley] Mall was the place to be. But over the last twenty years, it's become a ghost town, and one that banned unsupervised teens from being in the mall years ago. Simply put, The Town That Friendship Built needs places for friends to go. A skatepark will not only be a great place for the skate, BMX and scooter kids to gather, but with any luck, the start of a growing community hub for all people to come together.
Q: Finally, what advice would you give to other cities and towns across Southeastern Michigan and Western New York interested in applying for grant monies from the Built to Play Skatepark Program?
TC: There's no time like the present. The people who were once against skateboarding have realized that computers and lack of exercise are the real problems our children face. If I can juggle a full-time job, seven kids, and helping my wife start her own business while trying to build a skatepark, then what's holding you back?
To learn more about the Built to Play Skatepark Program, its grant opportunities and ongoing efforts throughout Western New York and Southeast Michigan, visit The Skatepark Project at www.skatepark.org.