Luke Nelson Skatepark dedicated in Medina

The family of the late Luke Nelson stand with Medina Skate Park Society president Alex Feig during the Sept. 4 dedication of Luke Nelson Skatepark in the village. From left are Luke’s cousin Remi Gill of Newfane, aunt Dawn Powell of Newfane, his girlfriend Megan Schwaibold of Gasport, his mother Terri Nelson of Middleport holding Luke’s skateboard, cousin Sarah Powell, aunt Catherine Puff of Newfane and Alex Feig. (Virginia Kropf / contributor) 

MEDINA — The dreams and legacy of a late Middleport native will live on with Luke Nelson Skatepark.

The $500,000 skatepark, dedicated on Sept. 4, pays tribute to Luke, a son of Ken and Terri Nelson, who died from a drug overdose in 2017 at the age of 32.

Luke used to come to Medina to skate at the old park in Butts Park, where he often met with Alex Feig, president of the Medina Skate Society, according to his aunt Catherine Puff of Newfane.

“Luke and Alex often talked about how they wanted a new park really bad,” Puff recalled. “Luke worked in construction and he used to talk about how bad the park needed fixing up. This was his passion. He had the most amazing heart. Luke touched lives. He loved kids and he loved his nieces and nephews, who are here” at the park dedication.

After Luke’s death, his mother visited the skate park, where she realized there was no place for parents to sit and watch while their kids skated, and she started asking for donations to buy a bench.

“We wanted a bench in Luke’s memory and we ended up with a half-a-million dollar skatepark,” Puff said. “And today we gifted it to the village.”

When they heard about the Tony Hawk/Ralph C. Wilson Foundation Build to Play grant, Feig formed the Medina Skate Society and an official fundraising campaign began. The society applied for the grant, which was a matching grant, and in the course of a year, with community support, it raised $250,570, which qualified it for a $250,000 match.

Luke Nelson Skatepark, designed by Spohn Ranch Skateparks, is all inclusive, meaning it was designed for all ages and all abilities, according to Feig.

At the dedication, Mayor Mike Sidari commended Terri Nelson and Feig, who he said were major players in skatepark development.

“On behalf of the village board, I thank you for adding to the quality of life in Medina,” Sidari said.

On dedication day, village Trustee Tim Elliott noted, he drove by the skatepark at 7:45 a.m. and it was already being used.

“This is good for kids and good for the community,” Elliott said. “I hope the kids respect it.”

Terri Nelson and Feig urged skatepark users to be role models, whether they are beginners or professional skaters. The helmet rule won't be enforced, according to Feig, and those who use the park skate at their own risk.

Most play equipment will be allowed in the skatepark, from small bikes to rollerblades and skateboards, but no motorized equipment or remote control cars are permitted, Feig added.

“Everybody just has to have courtesy. We are all bestowed with the power to create and destroy. Just look at what we’ve created here,” he said.

The Nelson family concluded the dedication by thanking everyone involved in making the skatepark a reality, from the village board and the Department of Public Works to the Tony Hawk Foundation (now the Skate Park Project), the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, the designer, the Skate Park Society and the Medina community.

“We appreciate you more than you will ever know,” Terri Nelson said. “I’m so proud to be Luke’s mom. He had a dream, a vision. A bench started this skatepark. I’m humbled and I’m blessed by the sacrifices so many people have made. So many people kept us strong and held us up in their prayers. The result is Luke’s vision and Luke’s dream have become a reality.”

The family is starting the Luke Nelson Foundation, Terri Nelson announced. They hope to recruit people like Luke to help skaters fix their boards and help each other any way they can. 

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