Harrison St. DIY

Harrison St. DIY

Harrison St. DIY: Kansas City, MO

Escapist Skateboarding

A Brief History:

 DIY After a year of meetings and talks with city just to be ignored over emails, Ben Hlavacek and Keelin Austin began scouting spots to start a spot without permission to show the city this is how DIY parks are done. Inspired by the central meet up spot of a distinct DIY spot in KC, Westport high school, which was on an abandon tennis court.

Nov. 2014 built the first barrier on Harrison Street. Continued adding on the barrier and built over an existing manual pad located further up the street over the winter of 2015.  DIY

3-1-1 call to public works in early spring about the skateboard traffic along the abandon block of Harrison St. between 4th and 5th. First there were threats to tear down the spot shortly after, closed road to traffic to begin discussions with neighborhood association and public works. Began contacting media outlets with positive feedback. Appeared on multiple news stations, radio stations, blogs and local newspapers (even the cover of INK KC)

Opened up the street to traffic, left everything to skate in the street, Coexists with neighborhood as a dog park, walking park  DIY

The property has been vacant for 20+ years because of a failed public housing project. Still owned by The Housing Authority, but the street behind the barrier (where we are allowed to build) is city property. Major neighborhood support because the area is now filled with life and is clean, instead of filled with prostitutes, homeless, drugs and trash.  DIY

Very loose 'permission' to build. The area is supposed to be re-developed in the next 5-10 years, so we have until then to build and get as much support as we can. (PS they told us a few months ago that they planned to remove everything in the street, which is now the least of their worries ;)  DIY

Began hand digging the bowl that is in the middle of the cul-de-sac in late spring. With fundraising events, personal donations, grants and a ton of community support, we built and funded the whole bowl plus our newest extension on the deck. ($6000 grant from Charlotte St. Foundation, $2000 donation from PBR)  DIY

The potential to fill the whole street with a skate park. This is all possible based on the knowledge of our friend, Kyle Crandall, who helped build Kings Highway DIY in St. Louis (he lives here now).We will learn the art of laying concrete and we will gather the experience to be able to pass along to the next generation of skaters in Kansas City through workshops and other community projects.

On a side note, when we were talking to the city about getting an approved spot to start a DIY, they brought up under the overpass right downtown by Escapist. This would be a perfect spot to start a classic icon of a DIY in KC when they come around to tearing our spot down... The future and community involvement will tell.  DIY

Nick Owen – Escapist Skateboarding
All Photos Care of Mitch Stroup