After the Groundbreaking - Photo by Corey Vance


Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

After 11 years and eight months of work, the Friends of the Roc City Skatepark is proud to write that on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, the City of Rochester broke ground on the Roc City Skatepark.

Here’s a few pics from the event by Heliosun Photography, and a number of articles about the groundbreaking and the park! We’ve also included the speeches from our President, James Maddison, and our Executive Director, Alan Presutti.



FRIENDS President James Maddison delivers his speech.
FRIENDS President James Maddison delivers his speech with his children by his side.


Perseverance is one aspect of what I believe is the single most important quality of leadership.


I am often asked why I have dedicated so much time and effort to this project during the past 12 years

My reason is very simple.

I promised my children I would build a skatepark. I can’t think of a better or more important reason than my promise, and I never qualified the promise with “unless there are challenges to work through and obstacles to overcome.” This credibility carries over to other parts of my children’s lives, and they trust me. This trust helps them to feel secure.

Every single child in Rochester deserves to be treated in this manner, to trust grown ups, and to feel secure. There can be no broken promises, even if the promise has challenges to work through and obstacles to overcome.

Sadly, one of the children who trusted us to build a skatepark where he could feel secure is no longer with us. Akeer Matthews died after being hit by a car on his skateboard. He died on this exact day – October 9, 2010.

Akeer’s mother Sheila is here with us today. Sheila, please let Akeer know we did keep the promise we made to him and that you, his spirit, and his memory have helped us work through many challenges and overcome many obstacles.

The Roc City Skatepark will have a lot of meaning and represent different things to different people.

I will forever see the skatepark as a representation of a credible volunteer working board dedicating countless hours of their own time to the mission of improving the health and wellbeing of our community;

I will forever see a representation of credibility among our business leaders and sponsors who are providing the resources to make the vision of a skatepark a reality, including Justin Barnes, Xerox Corporation, Nelson Leenhouts, Sutherland Global, Sage Rutty, RG & E, Ralph C. Wilson and Tony Hawk Foundations, and the Sands Family who provided our nonprofit unrestricted start-up funds and are matching every dollar we raise up to $110,000 that will be restricted to construction and additions to the park;

And finally, I will always see a representation of credible city leaders who, despite having to work through challenges and overcome obstacles, are building a skatepark because they promised the children of Rochester that they would build a skatepark, and there is no better or more important reason to build a skatepark.

Thank you, Mayor Warren, Commissioner Dr. Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres, City Council, and the leadership of the City of Rochester.

FRIENDS Executive Director Alan Presutti delivers his speech.
FRIENDS Executive Director Alan Presutti delivers his speech.


I would like to start by saying that The Friends of the Roc City Skatepark would like to thank Mayor Warren for having the courage to push this project forward and believing in its virtues ever since her days as president of City Council.

To all the members of the Roc The Riverway council for voting to provide us with the necessary funding to get us across the threshold, especially Shawn Dunwoody who has been supporting us since our first fundraiser at his gallery 11 years ago.

To Mitch Gruber and all the members of city council, Commissioner Lyman torres, Jim Farr John Piccone and Kristina Heiligenthaler from the department of Recreation and youth.

And The Tony Hawk Foundation for their guidance, support, and financial generosity.

We would also like to thank All the citizens/donors of Rochester that have believed in and supported this project even when it seemed impossible.

Today we stand here to witness the next step in the culmination of hard work, perseverance and a partnership between city government and a dedicated group of citizens. This skatepark, when completed will be a piece of the puzzle that represents the new future for Rochester, NY. A Rochester that is turning a new leaf by embracing its community and pursuing fresh new ideas while looking to the future and making choices that will continue make this city grow to be a better place for people across all social and economic backgrounds.

This Skatepark will also show the youth and families that currently live here that they will be included in the new Downtown experience.

The Friends of the Roc City Skatepark have worked hard by partnering with DRYS, The City school district, and the local business community to participate in a variety events, all to show that these once frowned-upon activities such as skateboarding, BMX, scootering, and rollerblading can be used as a great way build up communities when they are given properly-built and sanctioned locations.
We hope, when this park is completed, that it will be the tipping point for Rochester and its surrounding towns to embrace the concept of using properly-designed and constructed skateparks, and the participants of what we call progression-oriented sports in order to enhance the lives of their citizens and businesses.

We look forward to continuing to work with our government officials and ALL of our fellow Rochestarians to help make this city grow and be a better place for EVERYONE.

Thank you.


Photos by Heliosun Photography unless otherwise noted.

Roc The Riverway and Rochester city skatepark groundbreaking
Roc The Riverway and Rochester city skatepark groundbreaking
Demo warmup before the event
Demo warmup before the event – Photo by Corey Vance
The crowd gearing up before the groundbreaking. Photo by Corey Vance.
The crowd gearing up before the groundbreaking. Photo by Corey Vance.
Roc The Riverway and Rochester city skatepark groundbreaking
Roc The Riverway and Rochester city skatepark groundbreaking
Roc The Riverway and Rochester city skatepark groundbreaking
Roc The Riverway and Rochester city skatepark groundbreaking
We did it for the Youth!
Mayor Lovely Warren delivering her speech.
Mayor Lovely Warren delivering her speech.
Commissioner Daniele J. Lyman-Torres  and  supporters are stoked!
Commissioner Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres and supporters are stoked!
Trevor Staples from the Tony Hawk Foundation
Trevor Staples from the Tony Hawk Foundation
Representative from RGE speaking at the groundbreaking
Representative from RGE speaking at the groundbreaking.
City Council Member Mitch Gruber delivers comments.
City Council Member Mitch Gruber delivers comments.
Gearing up for breaking ground! Photo by Corey Vance.
Gearing up for breaking ground! Photo by Corey Vance.
Breaking Ground!
Breaking Ground!
Breaking Ground!
Breaking Ground!
Jim, Alan, and Mayor Warren  with Akeer's mom
Jim, Alan, and Mayor Warren with Akeer’s Mother

What’s happening. What’s taking so long/update….

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized
Things may seem quiet, but the Roc City Skatepark is still moving forward!
We are currently working towards becoming a stand alone Not-For-Profit organization by securing official 501c3 status. In the past, we were working under what is a called a fudiciuary agent or fiscal sponsor. In other words, another Not-For-Profit took us under their wings to help us raise funds and structure our board to be more efficient. However, after many discussions with potential donors and skatepark organizations, it makes more sense to operate independently, allowing us to more actively seek relevant grant opportunities and donations.
As some know, a big hold up has been securing an actual home to build the park. We have been pushing to build under the The Fredrick Douglas/ Susan B Anthony bridge (aka 490 Bridge) between Time Warner office and Dinosaur B-B-Q. Over the years, we have explored other locations, sometimes as suggested by our partners, other times of our own intent. We have encountered pushback on some of those locations due to others’ preconceived notions, bad match with the offered location, or the City’s plan for an intended parcel of land. Ultimately , our goal is to have the park  be centralized in downtown so that EVERYONE can feel welcome and  that the park will benefit local businesses. 
After a few of these sidetracks in our efforts, we have come back to focus our efforts on the land under the bridge. However, this location still poses some big challenges, but ones that we feel are worth the effort. This requires coordinating with future neighbors, the Rochester city government, the New York State Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) and the Federal Highway Department. Each of these agencies comes with their own requirements.
All of these hoops can be jumped through, but they take time and considerable effort. Eventually, of course, it is going to take money. For a sense of scale, that means hundreds of thousands of dollars before we can even break ground. A properly vetted skatepark building plan costs $50,000 to $100,000 dollars. The site also requires soil studies and other expenses we simply cannot get around. No matter what size park we build, there will be substantial preparation costs. 
Some of you are wondering where all the money we raised and received in the past has gone. It has all gone to furthering this project. The conceptual design and study we did cost us $50,000 to hire local architectural/engineering firm Stantec to create. This price may seem like a lot, but this was a very low figure for the plans that were created). All other funds have gone to things like supplies and promotional materials to getting understanding/awareness of the skatepark effort out to the public through events, outreach, etc.  Promotional items we created to raise awareness like T-shirts and signs cost money. And we cannot forget certain basics like office supplies still come with a price.  We have created a document that you can download to get an idea of what we have done and how things have broken out at the following link:
Our board is 100% volunteer. Nobody takes a salary, and no money has ever gone missing. Our fundraisers unfortunately only raise a small amount of money that we channel back into our efforts. Ultimately, no matter if we build a small park or a giant football-field-sized park, this effort would still cost more money to create than one would imagine. Believe us, we’ve learned this fact firsthand.
We are aiming for a world-class, high quality large park because Rochester deserves a facility that will be fun for participants of all ages and skill levels and bring pride to the community for many years to come. We will probably only get the chance to build this park once. I feel that we need to do it right the first time, or we will all suffer in the future. This is a park for all the progression-sports enthusiasts to enjoy from the Greater Rochester area and beyond. That covers a lot of people. Imagine playing football, baseball, field hockey and soccer on one parcel of land all at once. It would be dangerous and very unpleasant for all. This one park will be a home for BMX, skateboarding, rollerblading, scootering, roller skating and more, so we want to make sure that we can accommodate as many people as possible.
We also cannot forget that all of the aforementioned activities (except roller skating after 6pm) are banned in downtown Rochester. Once we have a park, the police and security guards will be cracking down tenfold of what we currently experience. Long term, do you want to all be forced onto a tennis-court sized park with poorly designed ramps, or into a beautiful, awe-inspiring park that provides challenges for all these athletic pursuits and the diverse opinions on what is fun to ride?
I totally feel everyone's frustrations. Everyone on our board shares your frustrations! I also just want this park built now, and at first I didn't understand fully what it takes to achieve this goal,(timewise, effort, and cost) ,but I have learned a lot in this process and honestly feel if we stay positive and keep plugging away, this park WILL happen. 
Feel free to ask me any questions and deliver comments, constructive criticism, and suggestions my direction. You can reach me at
Thank you for your continued support!
Alan Presutti
Friends of the RocCity Skatekatepark

Status report – January 2017

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

The City of Rochester has set aside $100,000 out of there 2017 budget for the Roc City skatepark effort.

The City’s goal is to have the site selected and a consultant on board this Fall and to install some temporary/portable skate features in an area in or close to downtown by summer 2017 as we continue planning for the permanent site.


It DOES NOT mean that the board gets a check for $100,000 to spend on what ever it feels best.

It DOES NOT mean we get to spend money on concrete for a DIY skatepark.

It DOES NOT mean we can buy t-shirts and pay for fundraising materials needed to raise money for the park.

It DOES mean we can ask the City to spend it on things like design plans, soil studies, feasibility studies, and construction of temporary and permanent skate obstacles.

We are very thankful for this gift and see it as a solid sign of further commitment from the city towards our end goal. (With this latest designation, they now have dedicated over $150,000 of tax payer money to the project.)

Trust us, we understand that people are confused and frustrated by this process, but this is how things work when working with ANY city government. It is normal for any city to take this long when building a skatepark on the level we are aiming for. (FYI, Boston took 15 years to get their park!), but we’ve seen a lot of progress with the City this year. Let’s keep this moving forward!

Alan Presutti,
Friends of the Roc City Park