Tuesday, August 1, 2017
This spot was named after the now defunct grocery store Bell's. The store changed over to a Quality in the early 1990s and is currently a Save A Lot. The skateboarding mostly happened in the parking lot on the other side of the plaza that was between the store and a bank. There were a couple of curbs, a tiny little two stair, flatland, and some shopping cart racks that a few brave souls got boardslides on with the aid of a launch ramp. Occasionally a bench or flatbar would be put down the stairs for added excitement. For vague reference purposes, the grocery store would be to the left from the bottom photo.
These are infamous Bell's stairs, which are located at the very left edge of the second photo. I'd like to see Jaws try to tame this beast. I swear they've sunk into the ground over the years. In the early 2000s, I would usually park my car in the downtown and skateboard all around the city. I would never linger long at one spot so I'd get in an ollie up and down the stairs, plus maybe another trick or two before moving on.
In the mid 1990s, the bank remodeled their drive-thru and created a gap between the two parking lots. It is a fairly small gap, but just big enough to mess with my head. I really hope I ollied it at least once. I just remember the bails. The remodel included a pair of steps by the bank's backdoor that was skateable. The step has since been skate stopped by the addition of an orange pole.
There were a couple of parking blocks at the spot that were somehow moved across the street to a vacant building's parking lot. This spot became known as the Bell's Curbs. There was also a weird gap to go with the parking lot and the curbs. The building was eventually repurposed for a mental health facility so it is done. The old curbs we used to skate became part of the neighboring church's parking lot. They lasted up until the early 2000s before being replaced.
An added bonus of this area was the pavilion. If it was raining or maybe even a little snowy, you could get in some tricks under the cover of a roof. We would sometimes take a bench to the pavilion to give it some variety. I skated it a couple years ago on a warm and rainy December Saturday. It seemed a lot smaller than it used to be.
Even though it hasn't been Bell's for roughly 25 years, I'll still call this place the Bell's Plaza. You could probably get away with skating it today, even though the parking lot is in kind of rough shape. Anything at the bank would be questionable. I don't think we ever got hassled much and this was a staple of the local skate scene for much of the 1990s.