The Milledgeville Skatepark: The Heart and Soul of Milly’s Youth

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The Milledgeville skateboarding community grew tremendously in recent years. In October
2015, landscaper and skateboard enthusiast Ben Joiner began building the Milledgeville
Skatepark. Five years later, he continues to expand upon the skatepark, adding and modifying
new ramps and rails over time.

Joiner, a former GC student, grew up in Milledgeville in the late 1990’s. The 39-year-old became
a part of the Milledgeville skateboarding community as a teenager. Over two decades later,
Joiner still maintains his passion for skateboarding.

He skateboards at his park almost every day, often joined by GC students, high schoolers and
young children. The skatepark rests on the corner of South Tattnall Street and West Franklin
Street, right next to Central City Park. Joiner constructed the park for the community of
Milledgeville, especially focused on providing recreation opportunities for the younger members
of the community.

“As I got more involved with skateparks, I found out how good they are for the community,”
Joiner said. “Other cities around the country have reduced their crime rates by getting more
people out there doing these recreational activities.”

As a youth group speaker at his church, Joiner cares greatly about the well-being of
Milledgeville’s younger generation. He recently expanded the size of the skatepark to allow
more people to use it simultaneously. Joiner resurfaced a big section of concrete and made it
usable for skateboarders.

“Before I resurfaced it, that concrete was so rough that you couldn’t skate on it,” Joiner said.
“Only about three to five people could use the park at once without having to wait too long. Last
spring, I would be out here, and I would feel bad because 9-10 people would show up and end up
having to leave.”

A motivated Joiner transformed these limitations into brand-new modifications. He smoothed out
rough patches of concrete and inserted some rails and unfinished ramps. Joiner plans to improve
the ramps until they are completely finished.

The city of Milledgeville plans to redesign Central City Park and eventually tear down the
skatepark. However, these plans were initially proposed in early 2016. Such an enormous project
takes time, and Joiner used that time to the fullest.

 

“The park redesign is a very ambitious project, so it takes time,” Joiner said. “This is kind of like
an interim skatepark, but the longer they take, the nicer it’s gonna get.”

While Joiner cherishes the skatepark he created for the youth of Milledgeville, he looks forward
to the redevelopment of Central City Park and the recreational activities it will provide for the
community. A new dog park will replace the skatepark, and the city will also add a walking trail
and a fountain for kids to play in. In addition, the city plans to terrace the park’s hills and hold
concerts there.

GC senior Parker Botsford began skateboarding at the Milledgeville Skatepark last summer to
pick up a new hobby during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I go to the skatepark pretty much every day,” Botsford said. “The skatepark has given me a
great way to go outside and do something, especially since COVID-19 made it hard to do a lot of
other activities.”

During COVID-19, the skatepark served as an outlet for many high school and college students
to stay active and grow their own personal community.

“Since I have been skating there, I have been able to meet so many new people and really expand
my community,” Botsford said. “It’s also a great way to make friends and just relax without
worrying what other people think. Overall, I think it has been a blessing to kids and college
students in Milly.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many young people struggled with their studies and
their social life. Joiner’s skatepark provides them with a stress-free environment of fun and
acceptance.

“This park is for everyone,” Joiner said. “I have seen so many people come out here who feel
like they aren’t good enough, and that’s not the case. We’re all learning things and trying new
tricks. Anyone is welcome here.”

Joiner may love to skateboard, but his passion for the Milledgeville community stands out more
than anything.