Farewell to Chenga 57 skatepark
Winter in the Cleveland, Ohio area is rarely conducive to BMX riding. Knowing this, two Cleveland-area flatland riders (Scott Powell and Dave Schaefer) decided to pay rent on an indoor riding spot to continue riding through the winter months. It was the end of 1995 and winter had already arrived.
At the time, Scott Powell thought that the project would fold by the following spring. But the project, inside of a deserted supermarket in North Ridgeville, Ohio, eventually snowballed into one of the most progressive private skateparks in the U.S. Powell and Schaefer maintained a generous flatland area at one end of the park, and with the help of ramp designer Nate Wessel, the park incorporated several original features that drew BMX riders from throughout the U.S, Europe and beyond. The main design element being a wooden rhythm section -- a series of wooden trail-style jumps that wound through the park.
"I decided to start building the first part of the rhythm section when Scott and Dave were out of town. It was a constant battle for a while, but one day it hit a point where they started to trust me and just let me do more of what I wanted," said Wessel about the rhythm section. There is much that could be added about the original Chenga World skatepark. It hosted legendary contests, was featured in countless BMX videos, invigorated the Cleveland scene with new BMX talent and inspired countless other BMX riders to pursue their own idea of building and running a private skatepark.
The original Chenga World closed in the mid '00s, but Powell and Schaefer had expanded to include a newer skatepark: Chenga 2, and more recently, Chenga 57. Gone were the days of all-night flatland sessions and riders that lived under the ramps for months on end. Chenga had progressed from a home grown need to ride through the winter months into a profitable business venture.
Earlier this year, after six years of business, the owners of Chenga announced that they would be closing Chenga 57 in early February.
"Chenga 57 (Lorain, Ohio) will be closing its doors for business. Our last day of business is Saturday, February 2. The park has been operating on a month to month lease for quite some time and the landlord has given us notice that we must exit the space. This news in no way affects the operation Chenga World of Brook Park. Chenga 2 is a completely separate business that has an iron clad multi-year lease," said the owners of Chenga.
"We will be moving some of the ramps to Chenga 2, but we will be selling the remaining ramps and Skatelite to any serious buyers," they added.
The final lock-in jam is this weekend. Chenga 2 in Brookpark, Ohio remains open for business, and includes a private flatland area. Owner Scott Powell continues to ride flatland and film video parts in the skatepark.