“Creativity is really important in skateboarding. With every trick and spot, you are only limited by your own creativity. Everyone has to push themselves to learn new things, but the friendships you build from skateboarding help motivate you to be better,” said Paul Fish, creator of the Harrison Street DIY Skate Park.
The DIY is located in the heart of Columbus Park, near the City Market. It was previously occupied by a dumping site that used to be a vacant cul-de-sac.
“There was a lot of crime in that area, and the space wasn’t being used in a positive way, so we took that as an opportunity to turn it into something constructive,” Fish said.
These local skaters teamed up to create a beautiful place to skate that welcomes everyone. The DIY is the only non-city run skate park in Kansas City and is becoming a real gathering place for skateboarders and locals.
“I have been skating the DIY since they first started up,” said UMKC student Thomas Murphy. “You are constantly meeting new people there, whether it’s skateboarders or local residents, and everyone is always having a good time.”
Fish said, “We often get a lot of out-of-towners visiting the DIY, and this really helps connect our community to the larger skate community across the country.”
Approximately 10 people are constantly involved in the project. But on construction and pour days, many local residents and skateboarders volunteer to help add to the park. The building team is always evolving. The DIY has been lucky to have professional park builders and long-time DIYer’s help with this project.
“Funding has always been a struggle for the park,” Fish said. “But we’ve been able to secure grants and host many fundraising events for future pours.”
Funding for this local project comes from The Tony Hawk Foundation, Charlotte Street Rocket Grant, Nike SB and donations from the local community. The DIY has hosted many music shows, BBQs and skate jams to raise money and continue the growth of the park.
The closest upcoming event to help raise money is a silent art auction that will be held at Escapist Skateboarding on March 16 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Since the first pour, the DIY has evolved into something to benefit skateboarders. It has become a staple to bring the local and skate community together to create positive change. The skate park has since attracted the attention of many pro skateboarders.
“Early last year, the Nike skateboarding team sponsored an event at the DIY and donated money for future pours,” Fish said. “The team skated the park with local skateboarders and ended up bringing another pro skate group to the park later that year.”
For the future of the DIY, Fish hopes to have a finished skate park that is protected by the Parks and Rec Department.
“A sad truth for a lot of DIY spaces is that they get taken down by the city,” Fish said.
Fish hopes that with the scale of the park and the support from the local community, this park will be here to stay for a long time.
To donate to Harrison Street DIY, go to www.gofundme.com/harrisonstdiy, and to find more information, follow @harrisonstreetdiy on Instagram.