Public input sought on skate park

The local Kiwanis Club is encouraging the public to attend a special meeting next Wednesday (Oct. 16) on a proposed skate park here.
“We have a vision of where we want to go. It’s now a matter of the community getting into it,” said Steve Maki, past president of the Kiwanis Club who is spearheading the effort to build the skate park here.
Maki noted he would like to see anyone—adults and young skateboarders alike—attend next week’s meeting, which will start at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Sports Centre.
“By their attendance, they’re not committing to anything. They should just find out what’s going on, what we want to do,” stressed Maki. “And we want skateboarders involved—hopefully at as many stages of this project as possible.”
Maki will outline preliminary information on the project at the meeting, and wants to form several committees to help make the skate park a reality.
“It’s all about money,” he noted, adding a 1,200 sq. m concrete park, budgeted at $250 per sq. m, would cost about $300,000.
“But that’s if we just signed a cheque and left it at that,” Maki said. “We want to reduce the costs through some help from the community. There’s free stuff we can get there if we just look around.
“Scrounge it up and knock the price down.”
Maki also said some fundraising also will be involved, whether it’s a “buy a brick” campaign, government grants, candy sales, a golf tournament, garage sales, or a myriad of other possibilities.
Local skateboarders will be involved in the fundraising, too, added Maki, noting their involvement will create a sense of pride in their new skate park.
Maki said a large, concrete skate park looks like the only way to go.
“It may sound like it’s big, but when communities with skate parks have been surveyed [about] what they did and didn’t like about them, they tend to say it isn’t big enough,” he remarked.
“And wood ramps on asphalt is cheaper, but you have to keep coming back to it for repairs,” he added. “Concrete is low-maintenance, safer to fall on, smoother, quiet, and seamless.”
Maki said he’s been doing his homework on skate parks in order to cover all the bases regarding people’s questions and concerns at next Wednesday’s meeting.
“Skateboarding is the second-fastest growing sport in North America, just behind snowboarding,” he noted. “The use of skate parks is overwhelming—the kids swarm to it.
“The problem is there’s a stigma attached to skateboarding and right now, with no place to go, people see the kids out on the streets and sidewalks and maybe get worried.
“But they’re good kids, they’re not causing trouble. If they had a place to go, they wouldn’t be on the streets,” Maki reasoned.
Maki noted he’s also looked into any legal and safety issues that might pop up. “People worry about liability. But in America, the land of lawsuits, there’s no lawsuits associated with skate parks,” he said.
“A skateboarder is three times less likely to go to the hospital than someone going fishing. Four times less likely than someone playing volleyball, and 40 less than someone playing hockey.”
Maki said people often have the wrong impression of skateboarding after seeing extreme examples of stunts in the media.
“Properly-built skate parks are safe,” he stressed. “If someone falls down, they slide, they get back up, and if they are hurt at all, it’s nothing they can’t treat at home.”