The skate park at the Park District of Forest Park may be renovated, including the addition of new equipment and upgrades, with the help of a Tony Hawk Foundation grant for which the district is applying.

Tony Hawk is, arguably, one of the most famous skateboarders in the world. Even people who don’t skate have most likely heard his name. He’s become a brand, selling video games and clothing and other products in his name.

In 2002 he also started the Tony Hawk Foundation, through which he finances skate parks, primarily in underserved neighborhoods. It’s “the only national grant-writing organization focused solely on the development and financing of free, quality public skateparks,” according to the foundation’s website.

“Since its inception, the Tony Hawk Foundation has sought to foster lasting improvements in society, with an emphasis on supporting and empowering youth,” says the foundation’s website. “The foundation favors projects that have strong community involvement, grassroots fundraising, and a base of support from the skaters, parents, law enforcement, and local leaders.”

All things Forest Park has.

Jackie Iovinelli, executive director of the Park District of Forest Park, said when COVID-19 quieted things down around the park, as spaces reopened staff noticed what parts of the park were being used. The skate park, somewhat surprisingly, had become extremely popular.

“The board started to ask, what can we do to improve it,” Iovinelli said. The board quickly realized, though, that they weren’t sure how to answer that. Skaters know what they want, said Iovinelli. But park staff, most of whom don’t skate, weren’t sure what kind of improvements needed to be made.

So they decided to bring in a youth ambassador, 7th grader and Forest Park resident Lilly Wood, who regularly uses the skate park. Iovinelli said Wood will host meet and greets at the skate park, during which people can stop by to talk about what they’d like to see and provide feedback about the skate park and possible improvements.

“We’ll provide water and Gatorade and open it up for people to stop by and give their opinions,” Iovinelli said. She added that they’d also take visits to other skate parks in the area to see what’s popular.

The board is also reaching out to companies that build and sell skate park pieces. “We want to know what the trends are in terms of materials and equipment,” said Iovinelli.

“The skate park is extremely popular,” Iovinelli said. “We want to make it the best it can be for the people who use,” people who are, she added, of all different ages and skill levels.

Andrew Doss, director of the Roos Recreation Center, is in the process of putting together the grant application, which is due by the end of August. The park district, if awarded the grant, could receive up to $25,000 for skate park improvements.