Skate park taking new direction

After scrapping plans for a large concrete bowl design, the skate park committee is moving ahead with a new vision—and a renewed vigour—with its sights set on having one built here next spring.
“We had an estimate done as to how much it would cost for full bowl and found out it was over $350,000. That’s way over budget,” Rob Tovey, skate park committee chair and past president of the Fort Frances Kiwanis Club, said during a small gathering Monday night at the Memorial Sports Centre.
“So we’ve decided to go with a permanent modular design that we could afford,” Tovey added, noting he’s been eyeing skate park designs by Barkman Concrete Ltd. of Winnipeg that will cost $175,000 from start to finish.
“We want lots of options and lots of flexibility,” said committee member Rod McLeod, referring to the fact the committee, with input from skateboarders and in-line skaters, easily will be able to pick and choose which components would go into a new park.
Committee members looked at five sample designs from Barkman Concrete Ltd.’s Concrete Skate Concept Series on Monday, which showed layouts of completed parks the company has done elsewhere.
These plans featured a variety of ramps, stairs, rails, half-pipes, and above-ground concrete bowls.
“The kids want the bowl,” noted Tovey. “I just showed these to the kids skateboarding outside and not one of them said they didn’t want that.”
They also looked at some samples from Solo Ramps, which deal with portable modular components that can be moved into storage in the winter.
However, concrete bowl structures were not among the possible components available from that company and thus not a likely choice, agreed the committee.
The committee said the first step will be to determine a site for park that will meet the town’s approval. 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 noted a smaller park instead could be built where the gravel parking lot sits east of the arena, or even the tennis courts, thus avoiding the waterline issue altogether.
“We need to determine a site, get an agreement with the town, get Barkman to come up with some plans, and get fundraising after Christmas in order for a spring start,” said McLeod.
“We can start fundraising once it gets approved,” added Tovey.
“The key is to let the public know it’s going ahead,” responded McLeod.
“We all 100 percent believe this is going to happen this year [2005]. We don’t need that much [money] any more,” said Tovey, referring to the fact the skate park committee already has about $110,000.
“We’re going to do the bricks. We’ve got the pledge list,” he added. “I’m hoping the bricks will bring us to where we want to be [for raising funds].
“I really believe in my heart we can do $60,000-70,000 in the span of three or four months,” Tovey stressed.
The committee’s next step will be to talk to the town and see what council, administration, and management think of a scaled-down, more affordable version of a skate park, and what a preferable location would be.
Assuming the town approves the proposed revisions, Tovey said having a clear—and immediately attainable—goal for the skate park should help revive public support and get the project done by next spring.
“People are starting to doubt whether it will happen,” he admitted. “We need the positive reinforcement.”
Steve Maki, who first spearheaded the proposed project back in 2002, has stepped down from that role because he’s found he just can’t give as much effort as he’d like to any more.
“I helped to get it going, but ever since I started my new job in April, I just haven’t had the same time,” he said. “I’d definitely like to see it get done.”