Best Of 2020

Best DIY Skatepark: Newport’s DIY Skatepark

Galaxie Skateshop owner Gary Collins and Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso are the driving forces behind Newport’s DIY Skatepark, a collaborative spot hand-crafted beneath the I-471 bridge. “The idea (for the park) was conceived by the previous owner of Galaxie, my friend Andrew Martin,” said Collins in an interview with CityBeat. “He just started building under the bridge, like, renegade, with a box, and then a quarter pipe. When I bought the shop, I reached out to the city a little bit more about letting us push it.” In 2008, Martin approached Peluso about clearing the area of mud and debris in exchange for creative control beneath the overpass. Peluso, who also happens to be Galaxie’s landlord, was enthusiastic about the idea — the city had long considered building a park, and the DIY spot’s remote location would provide a space for skaters to ride without being chased off by cops. When Collins bought Galaxie in 2009, he made it his mission to further expand the park with Peluso’s approval. What was originally a few parking blocks and wooden ramps has now become an urban oasis. A former pro skater and founder of the Instrument skate brand, Collins used his vast network to raise funds for the project. Thanks to a $1,000 grant from Citigroup, $14,000 donated by local nonprofit Newport Foundations and contributions from regular customers, the park now boasts an empty pool and an impressive array of ramps — all designed and built by skaters. Even the concrete was hand-mixed. “You can’t even measure the impact it’s had on the skateboarding scene out here,” Collins said. One of just a few fully fledged DIY parks in the country, the spot brings in a steady stream of pros and road-trippers. “Now, every time a pro crew comes through, they want to go to the bridge,” Collins said. “You’ll be down there, and you never know who you’ll see. The most mind-blowing person I’ve seen come through there is (former Thrasher Skater of the Year) Grant Taylor. But the local guys who skate there, they’re fucking ridiculous, too.”  Newport DIY Skatepark, I-471 Bridge, Newport.