Skate park committee bracing for fundraising blitz

The local skate park committee will have a hectic two months ahead as it aims to raise $100,000 to see a park built here this summer.
“We need $100,000. I know we can do it. I just hope we can do it in two months,” committee chair Rob Tovey said following a meeting with skate park designer Andrew Kondrat of Barkman Concrete Ltd. last night at the Memorial Sports Centre.
“We really have to get going with the fundraising,” echoed committee member Rod McLeod. “We’ve got the concept together, and the site should be confirmed at any minute now.”
Kondrat told the committee that Barkman, which is swamped with business right now, would need about eight weeks’ notice to have concrete components ready for installation this summer.
This means that in order to have the park completed by late summer, the committee would have to place an order with Barkman by May 1.
Kondrat said as far as Barkman’s work on the skate park goes, it would cost about $180,000 for a park built to the specifications in the most recent plans.
This cost includes the concrete components, transportation to here from Steinbach, Man., and then the installation.
The skate park committee also would have to pay a separate contractor to put down a concrete base.
Tovey asked Kondrat whether it was possible to only have the park partly built this year, then completed next year or whenever the funds would be available.
Kondrat replied the park would have to be re-designed since the current plan is “designed to work together.”
Given the committee currently has $120,000 raised for the skate park, it would need at least another $100,000 to have it built to the current plans.
Tovey said he felt $100,000 was attainable through a combination of the brick campaign (which started back in late 2003), a skate-a-thon in April, and a raffle, or raffles, of some sort.
“This town can really come together for a cause. We did $83,000 in that cancer walk [‘Relay for Life’] in just one weekend,” he remarked.
“If we get close enough, we probably could get funding from a private source. We’ll have to play it by ear,” Tovey added.
Tovey noted the committee and local skateboarders now have to kick into high gear and enlist anyone else (individuals, businesses, and service clubs) willing to help to start selling bricks, collecting pledges, and so forth.
While the local Kiwanis Club already has pledged $25,000 towards the skate park, Tovey (a Kiwanian himself) noted he also would check to see if they would lend volunteers to help with the fundraising.
A special meeting to deal exclusively with the financial state of the skate park project is slated for Monday, March 21.
< *c>Design details
Kondrat, a pro skateboarder, also was on hand last night to explain the current design and get input from local skateboarders.
Kondrat said he’s designed the park to meet both the needs of beginner and expert skateboarders, and accommodate different groups of skaters using different areas at the same time.
He added the design, which includes a myriad of ramps, bowls, half pipes, rails, stairs, and other features, is intended to mimic any skateboarding “challenges” found “on the street” and bring them together to make it the one and only place skateboarders have to go for a variety of riding experiences.
“Everyone should stay safe, have fun, and be challenged while using it,” said Kondrat.
When asked about maintenance costs, Kondrat stressed they’re minimal, adding the concrete work is guaranteed for 15 years. The components don’t warp or break, and are virtually impervious to the elements.
He noted the only wear that shows is on the polyurethane finish which is put on the surface as an anti-graffiti measure.
But Kondrat said the company is going to stop using that finish in the near future because it only serves as an aesthetic “finishing touch.” And not only does it mar with use, it tends to make the surface a little more slippery than most skateboarders prefer, especially when wet.
Kondrat stressed graffiti at a skate park isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in fact, when skaters can put their personal touch on a park, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for the facility, to which Tovey agreed.
While “bolt-together” skate parks with plastic, wood, or steel components can be very noisy, the concrete components are quiet—thanks to the natural sound absorption qualities of the material.
This is important to consider when the park is located in a residential neighborhood.
As far as input, all of the 10 or so skateboarders on hand for last night’s meeting liked the design, and only suggested a few minor changes (heightening rails, etc.)
Adult committee members, meanwhile, noted there should be benches and tables near the site.
Kondrat promised the skate park not only will increase the popularity of the activity in town, but build a sort of community where beginner skaters can learn from more experienced ones.
Tovey said with more skateboarders increasing their skills, the park even could become the site for skateboarding competitions in the future.
“It’s a quality park with a lot of challenges and a lot of features. People will come here to skate,” agreed Kondrat.
Once the park is built, Kondrat said the committee shouldn’t be surprised to see skateboarders waiting to use the facility whenever possible, adding just last week, skateboarders in Steinbach were shovelling the snow out of the one there in order to use it.
Kondrat noted the committee should realize the skate park also is well-suited to in-line skaters and BMX bikers, and that the various groups tend to show a common courtesy when it comes to sharing.
Barkman Concrete Ltd. has built more than 250 skate parks in North America and Europe.

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