The newest recreational addition to Burlington’s waterfront park is the Andy “A-Dog” Williams Skatepark. The park is located along the bike path, just next to the Moran plant, with stunning views of the lake, mountains and city.
In 2008 Vermont skaters pushed for a new park, as the old one (which was located where a parking lot now is) was in disrepair and on its way out. The movement started in 2008 and gained traction once it received a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation, providing publicity and backing to the project. It was finished and opened Nov. 24, 2015.
The park is dedicated to the late Andy “A-Dog” Williams, for his devotion to music and skateboarding community. Williams was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2012, and passed away the next year on Dec. 26, 2013. The park was dedicated to him June 4, this year at the grand opening. Mayor Miro Weinberger and pro skating legend Tony Hawk were there to commemorate the world class park. Hawk’s foundation also donated $10,000 to help build the park. Huge crowds amassed to see Tony Hawk skate the new park and to commemorate its dedication.
Andy “A-Dog” Williams Park is a sprawling concrete complex with a wide variety of elements, ranging from an impressive bowl, to decks and banks.
“It has a really good flow. It’s definitely in the top five parks I have been to, and I’ve been all over. I’m really impressed,” says Zander Hobbs, 26.
The park has provided a platform for skaters to connect and practice their skills, and it is easily accessible to everyone.
“I have never seen a gathering of skaters anywhere like this before,” the longtime Burlington skater said. “I think it’s awesome. It’s the best thing to happen to Burlington in a while.”
Even on a cold windy Monday on the first week of November the skate park was overflowing with a diverse group of skaters.
“This is my first board,” said Jason Wright, a skater from New Hampshire. “I’m here visiting a couple of friends and they told me I had to check the new park out, even though this is my first experience skating. I’d definitely have to say I am enjoying it.”
The new park is also affecting local businesses like Ridin’ High, a skate shop located on the corner of Pearl and Battery.
“A lot more people come in here looking for skateboards as before it was just people coming in here for longboards. We’ve always had skateboards in our shop. It’s just, with this park, a lot more orientation behind skateboarding comes into this shop,” said John Van Hazinga, owner of Ridin’ High.
Although Van Hazinga appreciates the new park, he has other ideas for a park more oriented towards long boarders and for skating as a way to get around.
“When I went to UVM in 1996, I knew one other kid with a long board. Now, I see tons of kids using them every day to get around campus. What I would like to see is more bike and board paths, because then it can be a lot safer and more accessible for people to use skating as a method of transportation.”
Whether it’s skateboarding at the new park, or longboarding around town, the Burlington skate community is thriving. The park is open from dawn until dusk for anybody to use so if you’re interested in skateboarding check it out!