man in blue t shirt does a skateboarding trick
Rocky Tracy skateboards on the former tennis courts at Liberty Park. Local skaters signed an adopt-a-park agreement with the city of Mansfield, allowing them to maintain the courts and turn them into a skate park.

MANSFIELD — B.J. Price was prepared to make an impassioned argument when he arrived at the Liberty Park tennis courts Friday afternoon.

But the resistance he was anticipating wasn’t there.

The meeting with Mansfield Parks Director Mark Abrams lasted less than 10 minutes.

At the end, there was an agreement between the Mansfield Parks Department and a group of skateboarders.

“It was almost shocking to show up and then it’s just like, ‘Here’s your paper,'” Price said.

Local skaters Tanner Hodges, Orie Rush and Gage Goodwin have been urging local leaders to build a skatepark since 2019.

After efforts to fund a new park through city council fell through, the trio decided on a DIY approach.

Hodges signed an adopt-a-park agreement with the city, which allows him to take charge of Liberty Park’s fenced-in tennis courts.

He and other local skaters say they plan to turn the 25,000 square foot pad into a skate park by building their own obstacles and fundraising through Skate Ohio, a newly-formed non-profit based in Butler.

Since the work will be all volunteer and no city funds will be spent, Abrams said the adopt-a-park agreement doesn’t need approval from city council.

Although Hodges will be in charge of the space, Liberty DIY is still a part of the park — meaning it’s open to the public from dawn to dusk and all city parks rules apply.

The skaters will handle the maintenance, but the city will be liable for anything that happens in the space.

“I think it’s gonna be a great project. I think it’ll be well-received after it gets up and going,” Abrams said.

“We’ve been talking about this since 2019. It’s time to do something besides talk.”

Four years later, Mansfield has a budding skatepark

Efforts to develop a skatepark in Mansfield aren’t new.

In June 2019, Abrams pitched legislation to Mansfield City Counsel to fund one at Maple Lake Park. He had set aside funds in the parks department budget for five years in order to fund the project.

After facing opposition from city council, Abrams pulled the legislation.

“We will wait until we can complete the master plan for the parks and incorporate it into that plan,” he said at the time. “The political climate is just not right at this time (to pursue it).”

The master plan, completed in 2020, includes $150,000 for a skatepark installation at Prospect Park. Abrams said it will remain part of the master plan, though funding for such projects remains limited.

After it fell through, the trio started setting up a makeshift park at an abandoned concrete pad near Westinghouse.

Once the demolition of the Westinghouse property began, they found themselves looking for a new place to shred. They set their sights on Liberty Park.

It won’t be the first time a group of skaters has banded together to bring a park to its community.

Hodges said he’d love to see the former tennis courts transformed into something like Ninth Street DIY, a park in Canton.

“Today it’s fully built out with professionally-built skate obstacles, concrete and the place is amazing,” he said.

Like in Canton, all Liberty DIY obstacles will be built by volunteers and paid for through Skate Ohio’s fundraising.

Local skaters have already erected a few rudimentary manual pads, a small wooden quarter pipe and a homemade flat rail. Hodges said there’s something rewarding about building obstacles you’ll later use.

“When it’s done. It’s not just a ledge to skate on. It’s the ledge that you built,” he explained.

“It feels good to finally have a place that we can kind of do our own thing and sort of just be left to our own devices.”

Not long after the agreement between the city and skaters was signed, Rocky Tracy clocked out of work and grabbed his board. He ended up becoming the first person to ride at the official Liberty DIY skatepark.

Tracy first learned to skate at 15. He reconnected with the sport last year after becoming involved in Skate Ohio’s Facebook group, Skate Mansfield.

“I just picked it up again last winter with this Skate Mansfield thing and I was like, ‘Dude, this my whole life. This is everything I want to do,'” he recalled.

“I was going to move out of Mansfield if we didn’t get a skatepark.”

Price said building a park in Mansfield fits perfectly with Skate Ohio’s goals. The organization has also had conversations with Lexington village officials about rehabilitating its skate park on Lexington-Springmill Road.

“It’s asphalt and all the ramps under there sank,” Price said. “There’s a two-inch lip in front of every ramp and you can’t skate. The thing that we proposed to (officials) is just moving the ramps off, removing the pavement, putting a concrete slab down and putting the ramps back on.”

Price said Lexington leaders have been supportive so far. He also hopes to partner with local school districts, start skateboarding teams and host competitions.

“A lot of people don’t fit into basketball, football, soccer,” Price said. “If they want another option, we want to be able to head something up.”

Staff reporter at Richland Source since 2019. I focus on education, housing and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. Got a tip? Email me at