Shredding new worlds at Lynch Family Skatepark

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This week, a creative new world opened under the access ramps of Interstate 93’s Leonard Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. A world of athleticism, sportsmanship and unparalleled excitement has been engineered into a site once isolated by Big Dig construction.

Annexing the power of collaboration​,​ The Charles River Conservancy co-mingled the vision of eight-time World Cup Skateboard Champion and Melrose native Andy MacDonald with public and private donations of more than $5 million to create a cement utopia in Boston. Concrete canyons​,​ 11 1/2-feet deep, barriers, and pipes have been constructed into an open space​, ​​helping to satisfy the wishlists of more than 400 volunteer consultant skateboard devotees of various ages and abilities.

This cooler than cool, sunlit underworld of 40,000 square feet, now called the Lynch Family Skatepark, is a one-of-a-kind playground​,​ welcoming skateboarders, BMX riders, in-line skaters and spectators. Both Mayor of Boston Martin Walsh​​ and Mayor of Cambridge David Maher​ affectionately claim boasting rights to the sporting facility designed to host community activities, multi-level clinics, as well as world-class competitions.

From immediate left, Peter Lynch, Mayor Martin Walsh and Renata von Tschaner at the ribbon cutting of the Lynch Family Skatepark. (Diane Kilgore, NewBostonPost)

From immediate left, Peter Lynch, Mayor Martin Walsh and Renata von Tschaner at the ribbon cutting of the Lynch Family Skatepark. (Diane Kilgore, NewBostonPost)

Like much of Boston’s famed history, the Lynch Family Skatepark, has contentious beginnings and a happy ending. Renata von Tschaner, founder and president of the Charles River Conservancy​,​ says the inspiration to support this magnificent athletic culture began two decades ago after a near tiff between sculptor of “Make Way For Ducklings,”​ ​Nancy Schon, and street skateboarders. Schon became furious watching wild boarders whiz around and jump over another of her iconic public works, “Tortoise and Hare​.​” That sculpture​,​ located in Copley Square near the finish line of the Boston Marathon​,​ symbolizes the merits of finishing a race rather than it’s pace.

Schon​,​ determined to protect the sculptures​,​ was prepared to rage at the skating, jumping, unruly looking boys. Once she spoke to the kids​,​ she found beneath their wild hair and ragged clothes were wholesome,​ ​polite young people intently focused on perfecting their skills in a sport they loved. After a short conversation​,​ she was convinced they were respectful of her and the art. She treated them in kind by calling Renata at the CRC asking why Boston can’t support skateboarder’s interests the way we do all other athletic endeavors in the city.

After some research, von Tschaner, a true steward of urban renewal, found skateboarding to be the fastest growing sport in the country. She says “​because most cities have no facilities to handle it, they out law it. ” Hoping to make every inch of the 400 of urban parklands that stretch between Boston Harbor and the Watertown dams attractive, active and accessible​,​ von Tschaner sought to utilize the under-utilized plot of land under I -93 to give Boston the largest skate park on the East Coast. She and both Mayors Walsh and Maher believe this site will soon become another of Boston’s many tourist attractions.

This weekend, in the shadow of Bunker Hill, more than 2,000 skateboarders, BMX bikers and in-liner skaters were given access to write another chapter in Boston’s great history of creating — or in this case, shredding —​ ​new worlds.

The Lynch Family Skatepark connects to Boston via the newly constructed pedestrian bridge between North Point Park in Cambridge and Paul Revere Park in Charlestown. It’s two blocks east of the Museum of Science.

The park was made possible, in part, by a donation from philanthropist Peter Lynch and his late wife, Carolyn, who passed away Oct. 1, 2015.

Diane Kilgore is a Boston-based blogger. Read more of her articles here.