Skate park asks town for financing

While work on the new Kiwanis skate park here was complete in time for a fundraiser in October, committee members still have their work cut out for them to raise $120,000 in four months.
As such, they put forth a proposal at Monday night’s town council meeting for bridge financing and/or a contribution to help pay off their bills.
“We’re at a crossroads,” committee chair Rob Tovey told council.
“Basically, we’ve built the park and we have, at this time, a few local businesses in [George] Armstrong Co. Ltd. and Ken Perry of L&K Construction that have given us very flexible terms that we feel we won’t be able to meet for an unreasonable amount of time.
“So, now we’ve come back to council and we’re throwing ourselves at the mercy of council, asking them for some form of contribution and/or bridge financing for approximately $120,000,” he added.
Tovey explained the skate park started out several years ago as a massive project that would have cost $450,000 to build. This then was scaled down to a $280,000 project, and then a $175,000 design from Barkman Concrete of Steinbach, Man.
But when these most recent plans were brought to the town for its approval, it was found the pad didn’t meet the provincial code—and a local engineer was consulted.
Planners originally budgeted for the installation of a six-inch concrete slab, which would have cost about $47,000. But now they would lay a slab with 16-inch club footings at each corner and an eight-inch base.
Adding to the cost of the slab, workers also left two-inch indentations where the components will be placed (original plans called for a flat base) and laid nearly five miles of rebar.
This came to a cost of close to $120,000.
By this time, Tovey noted, the committee had ordered components from Barkman and were ready to go ahead with the project.
While the committee considered just building the pad, then bringing in the components next spring after it had had a chance to raise more funds, Barkman called back and offered a deal where they would pay the balance of what they owed for the components this coming April.
The pieces were installed, and skateboarders flocked to the park when it opened earlier this fall.
Tovey noted council had set aside $25,000 to give to the skate park back in 2003, but had to rescind that motion when it became clear they couldn’t afford it.
“We’re not in a position to negotiate. You’re in a position to tell me what you can do,” he said. “But we’re hoping there will be some form of contribution along with the bridge financing.”
He added a three-year period to pay back the town was reasonable.
Tovey stressed the skate park committee was committed to staying together as long as it takes to raise the money it needs, and has fundraisers coming up in the New Year, ranging from its brick campaign and the Voyageur Lions’ “Polar Plunge” on Jan. 1 to a social and a skateboarding competition.
Council referred the committee’s request for financing to the Administration and Finance and Community Services executive committees for a recommendation.
< *c>Skateboarder speaks
Also on hand for Monday night’s meeting was 13-year-old Jacob Witherspoon, a local skateboarder who shared with council his thoughts on the new facility.
“The skate park is a great addition to our community. It has given us the chance to experience what the youth of a bigger community get to experience,” he said.
“The new park is awesome,” he enthused. “Being able to do a kick-flip boardslide is exciting when you’ve got great equipment to do it on. You get a great rush.”
Witherspoon noted there also is a sharing of knowledge among skateboarders young and old.
“This new park can lead our wonderful community to possibly hosting competitions for us skaters, bringing youth from other communities,” he added. “This would bring an exciting opportunity to view this new sport that we’re into.
“Myself and my fellow skaters feel that with the skateboard park, local business owners and residents can feel grateful there’s a place for us to hang out and board,” Witherspoon added, concluding that skateboarding is an activity appealing to youth not involved in other sports.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft said he felt skateboarding took a lot of skill, and Witherspoon and others should consider it a true sport. Coun. Neil Kabel asked the teen if he felt he still would be using the park in five years, to which Witherspoon said he would.
Coun. Todd Hamilton asked where Witherspoon and his friends used to skate before the park was built.
“Anywhere that we could before we got kicked off,” replied Witherspoon to cheers from the audience on hand at the Civic Centre.