What Happened to our SkatePark?
By Bobbie McCreary
July 28, 2010
Monday night I appeared in front of the Borough Assembly during
public comments. I passed out a letter from Taira Wilhelm (Kayhi
grad 2008) along with the recent Sitnews letters. I explained
I would take only a little of their time as this was a special
meeting to address the White Cliff building. I explained that
day as I left the Youth Center building project on Park Avenue
and drove up Schoenbar towards the bypass I passed by Walker
Field. I looked at the fenced lot with a truck and a few pieces
of miscellaneous equipment in it and said (out loud, actually!)
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO OUR SKATEPARK?
To the Assembly, I made the
- For THREE YEARS KYI has been
in discussions with the Borough and other parties about building
- A private citizen has offered
$75,000 towards building a covered skatepark
- The Borough has $150,000 in
their budget for a skatepark
- The Little League has formally
given their approval for use of Borough land to the North of
Walker Field for this purpose
I asked the Assembly to read
the letters I provided. Mayor Kiffer promised to provide us
with an answer to this question.
Three years ago, as a Junior
at Kayhi, Taira started a student-led movement to request a skatepark.
The current, RUSTY steel half pipes outside the Parks and Rec
building are dangerous (many kids have broken bones in their
feet by falling on this unforgiving surface). This leaves venues
such as the courthouse, the promenade, the docks, paved surfaces
like around the Discovery Center and streets to skateboard on.
All of which are posted "No Skateboards". Beginning
three years ago groups of skateboarders met weekly to design
a park with the assistance of a local small businessman who builds
skateboards and the support of the Ketchikan Youth Initiatives
Board. They collected over 600 signatures in support of building
a skatepark. Many presentations and meetings included the Assembly,
the Parks and Recreation Department, the Planning Department,
the Borough Manager's office, Little League officers. During
this time, I personally made three visits to the Juneau skatepark
and met with the Youth Center manager there to inquire about
how their park was established and how they overcame barriers
that surfaced. I talked to skateboarders and skateboard supporters.
Taira and others researched other skateboard parks in Sitka,
Anchorage, Haines and other locations and uncovered problems
that we can avoid and solutions that we can use. We developed
information about grants available through the Tony Hawke foundation
and the Charlotte Martin Foundation. We developed the relationship
with the private donor to secure that support. All of this can
easily be followed up by the Borough.
The results? Always some delay:
We needed to get Little League support for use of some of the
land adjacent to Walker Field that was promised to them long
ago by the Borough for the development of an indoor training
facility and other uses; this support came a few months ago,
in February. The "swimming pool issues" took precedent
It just kicked back and forth between departments and issues.
We offered to help with fundraising and are told they already
have the funds in place. (Although not enough to build a covered
facility which we believe is mandatory.) Youth (and adults) go
in front of the Assembly to plead for a park. Youth go in front
of the Assembly to thank the Borough for their support when we
hear the park has been approved. We offer to provide a design,
a community oversight committee, help in securing community support
to build the park. Same outcomes: 3 years of Delay, Delay, Delay.
IN ANSWER TO SOME CONCERNS
EXPLORED OR OTHER QUESTIONS:
- It makes sense for this facility
to be operated by the Borough although the community can help
make it happen and help keep it going. Use of Borough land makes
it affordable and the Borough has already committed funding and
their insurance is in place.
- The location adjacent to Walker
Field is ideal because it is in proximity to the Parks and Rec
department which makes it easy to maintain; there is continual
traffic passing by making it more difficult to deal drugs and
conduct other risky behavior. This is a location that easily
supports youth activities including a skatepark.
- We have recommended a webcam
at the facility so skaters and their families can check out what
is happening there. It can also feed into the Police Department.
- We have recommended a skater
user group to assist with a design that provides ultimate flexibility
and serves the purpose well so skateboarders, inline-skaters,
scooters will want to use the facility. We have no doubt that
a properly constructed facility will be in constant use in this
Our community MUST support
our youth by providing them with healthy activities and safe
places to hang out. That alone will not resolve the problems
we face from drugs and other social problems, but it can certainly
help some young people fill their time constructively. Who knows
if the next Shawn White (Olympic star snowboarder) might come
from Ketchikan? Skateboarders often ask me what is happening
with the skatepark. This is not rocket science. Everything
is in place to move forward except someone to say, "GO."
Let's get this done! Please email me at kyibobbie[AT]gmail.com
if you want to help.
Received July 28, 2010 - Published
July 28, 2010
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