Marty McGuire

Prologue: The Midland Area Community Foundation celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1998. The Foundation had a desire to take part in a project for youth to mark the occasion. At the same time, a member of the Project Committee, Marty McGuire, had the vision for a skatepark to give skaters a place to call their own in Midland. In 1999, these two dreams met as the Trilogy Skatepark opened in Downtown Midland.

Marty McGuire – In His Own Words, Documented by Kevin LaDuke

“I came to Midland in 1977 to become the Supervisor of Recreation for the City of Midland. I was with the City for 30 years and went on to work at Dow Gardens afterward.

When I first came to the City, softball was a very big component of the Recreation Department. In my very first year, we hosted the Amateur Softball Association Men’s National Fastpitch Championship here. It was the first time a city of under 100,000 people had hosted. That was a pretty exciting thing, and we broke attendance records at the event. In 1979, we hosted again, and the local team, McArdle Pontiac-Cadillac, won the national title.

Tunes by the Tridge was developed with the Center for the Arts. It was originally put together by myself, Jennifer Adamcik, with the Downtown Development Authority, and a representative from the Midland Center for the Arts.

During my time with the City, we hosted the MichiTario Friendship Games between our community and Sarnia, Ontario, for probably about 20 years. The games featured competitions in track and field, billiards, bridge, and more.

I was also able to be a part of the new ice arena and the disc golf course. We even built the first dog park in Midland. We had a lot of interesting projects!

In the nineties, we identified an issue with skateboarding in the community. Skaters didn’t have a place of their own and they were skateboarding wherever they could find concrete. We knew that out west [in the United States], there were parks developed for them. I was on the Projects Committee at the Community Foundation and there was interest there for a project for youth. There were no permanent concrete skateparks in Michigan at the time. I did some more research and was able to connect with an architect by the name of Ken Wormhoudt from California. I was pleased to work with him, and we gained City Council approval.

Insuring the skatepark was a big challenge. It started out with, ‘You’re going to build what?’ Then, they finally came around and said they would allow it to be insured for an exorbitant amount of money, and everybody’s padding would have to be full-bodied. We continued to talk and did a lot of research on the parks in California and learned all kinds of new insurance terms like ‘assumed risk’ and all those kinds of things. We found out that in some circles, it was believed that the City had more liability without a park than it did with a park. We were allowing skating to happen, but without a park, we weren’t controlling it in any way, and so, if there were injuries, there was a school of thought that said we were more liable for injuries. We went through a long and convoluted process. We finally were able to get the costs to a reasonable number and said, ‘Okay. We’ll pay that the first year, but you need to guarantee us that you’ll experience rate us when there are no claims.’ They did, and we moved forward with insurance.

We started the park’s design process, and it was a fun one. There was a young guy at the time who worked for me named Bob Pierce. Bob was a skateboarder himself, knew a lot about skateboarding, and knew a lot about the skateboarders in the community. I got him involved, and he was kind of my advisor because I didn’t know much about it. We engaged with Ken Wormhoudt and his son, Zach, and they came to town one Saturday afternoon. We advertised wherever we could and invited the skateboarders to a meeting. Part of the Wormhoudt’s process was that they gave skateboarders clay, and they actually made clay models of the things that they’d like to see in the skate park – you know, the elements that they’d like to see. They took those back, designed the park from that meeting, and then came back and had another meeting with them and refined it. We really had buy-in from the skateboarders because it was their park. It was built by Gerace Construction, here in town. They worked with Ken and came up with a great product. The Trilogy Skatepark opened in Downtown Midland in 1999.

The Midland Area Community Foundation was a primary supporter of the project. They really got behind it and drove the idea. They assisted us with explaining the idea to the community and providing this space.

I want Midland to be a community that opens up opportunities for a wide variety of people. I think that’s what we were able to do with the Community Foundation and Trilogy Skatepark. The skateboarding population really was underserved at the time. Chippewa Banks Disc Golf Course was another project the Foundation assisted with, and it was not a real common area of recreation at the time. Then, the dog park, as well. If the community can see its way to do things for all segments of the population, I think that’s a great thing.”


More Stories