Skate park set to move forward

With new plans in hand, and a meeting scheduled with the town next week, the local skate park committee is determined to finally get the shovel in the ground this summer.
“We’re willing to do whatever the town wants. We just want to get this thing underway,” said Rob Tovey, skate park committee chair and past president of the Fort Frances Kiwanis Club, who is now spearheading the project along with Rod McLeod.
He noted the committee has been putting a proposal together to present to council at a meeting next Monday (Feb. 14), and hopes to get its approval to move forward as soon as possible.
Tovey said the committee has been looking over its finances, and is standing at around $120,000, including pledges, Trillium dollars, and funds raised over the past two years.
“We’ve got a good chunk of cash together,” McLeod noted Tuesday.
They also have had revised plans—which feature a variety of ramps, stairs, rails, half-pipes, and above-ground concrete bowls—for a 14,500 sq. ft. permanent modular park drawn up by Barkman Concrete Ltd. of Winnipeg.
During a short meeting Tuesday night at the Memorial Sports Centre, a handful of committee members got together to look at the latest plans.
And the design got the thumbs up from a trio of skaters on hand for meeting. “It’s the best plan I’ve seen yet,” said Tyson Kadikoff. “If there’s a design to go with, this is it.”
“It’s really functional,” said John Galbraith.
“It’s the best plan I’ve seen so far,” echoed Josh McCarthy.
“There’s lot of stairs,” added Kadikoff. “You could spend all day skating on it.”
McLeod asked if there was anything missing from the plans, to which McCarthy answered the design needed to include benches or some other place for people to sit.
Tovey noted the skate park will be surrounded by landscaping, and he’s sure councillors will see it will be an “asset to the town” once it is built.
If the park is built to the specifications of the most recent plans, it would cost about $295,000. This includes site preparation and flatwork ($75,000); equipment ($175,000); site work and landscaping ($15,000); taxes, fees, and other charges ($20,000); and a contingency fund ($10,000).
But unlike the previous large concrete bowl design which would have cost the skate park committee well over $300,000, the modular design means the skate park can start with a $75,000 base—and build it up feature by feature.
“Now, we’re in control of what we’re spending. If we have $180,000, that’s what we can spend. Then, next year, we can add to that,” remarked Tovey.
“Right now, $175,000 in apparatus would give us a real good park.”
Tovey added it’s possible costs could be reduced if local contractors agree to do some of the work—or donate materials—as their contribution to the community project.
But he noted a significant detail that has to be straightened out before moving ahead is the location of the park.
The old plans had the large park running behind the Memorial Sports Centre, but this caused problems as it meant the committee would have to pay $35,000 to move a waterline before it could be built.
Tovey also said the Fort Frances Public Library has been eyeing this land as a possible site for a new library.
He noted a smaller park could be built instead where the gravel parking lot sits east of the arena, or even the tennis courts, thus avoiding the waterline issue altogether while, at the same time, not interfering with any future library plans.
“We want everybody to be happy,” said Tovey.
With a clear idea of what they can feasibly accomplish, Tovey is hoping the project will proceed smoothly and quickly, and that Fort Frances finally can see something built for skateboarders and in-line skaters to use.
“Our focus is on the kids. We’re doing it all for the kids,” he stressed.
Assuming the town approves the proposed plans and can confirm a location for the skate park, Tovey said having a clear—and immediately attainable—goal for the skate park should help revive public support and boost any further fundraising.
As well, after getting the town’s approval, the committee would seek funding from the Trillium Foundation.
The skate park committee has set up a rough timeline to follow-up next Monday’s meeting with council.
The next step will be to initiate fundraising, which will be ongoing throughout the construction of the skate park, and include a brick campaign, among other initiatives.
Then at the end of February, there will be a public meeting with parents, skaters, and anyone else interested to review the most current park concept drawings.
Andrew Kondrat of Barkman Concrete will be on hand to answer questions, and get input.
Drawings revised with input from that meeting then will be drawn up and returned to the committee for review in March. A call for tenders will be made.
In April, the committee will receive and review price quotations, and reward a contract.
In May, the site will be prepared and the flatwork (or concrete base) will be put down. This would be followed by installation in June, which would take an estimated six weeks in total.