Tighten up the decks and get a grip on this news: Lansdale Borough wants a skate park.
And perhaps the third time will be the charm.
Parks and Recreation Committee Chairwoman Mary Fuller said at an April 6 meeting that the committee is proceeding with discussions on how to bring a skate park to the borough.
She and borough parks and recreation director Carl Saldutti confirmed that the area of interest for consideration is Schweiker Park.
The park, Fuller said, would be a joint project with Hatfield Township. Hatfield co-owns Schweiker Park with the borough and, in essence, would jointly own a skate park.
There are two privately-owned lots that adjoin the park, and the borough could be looking into purchasing them from the resident.
“The land has been there. We know it’s there. It is an important accoutrement to the borough,” said Fuller.
She called a skate park in the borough “necessary.”
This would be the third time the borough has looked into the possibility of constructing a skate park.
The first time was in 2003. At that time, the borough and the North Penn YMCA entered into discussions on a skate park to meet an increasing demand in the sport.
However, according to an article in The Reporter, former borough manager F. Lee Mangan said a park wasn’t feasible because White’s Road Park was too small, and Schweiker Park wouldn’t permit it because it is a restricted passive recreation park funded by a county grant.
There was also the risk and liability factor—what if someone gets hurt? Would the borough be sued?
In August 2007, the discussion came up again per request of former councilman John Smiley, prompted by a report that more youths are skateboarding than playing baseball, according to a Reporter newspaper article.
But, for a second time, the idea was tabled come 2008 because the resident with two adjoining lots to Schweiker Park wasn’t interested in selling.
There was some hope, too, that Keith Stoltz, owner of the former American Olean Tile Co. property, would either sell or donate a one-acre parcel to the borough and township, according to the article.
Lansdale Borough zoning laws prohibit skateboarding on public property only, thereby forcing skaters to use places like White’s Road Park or Wedgewood Park for their ollies, grinds and kickflips.
One vote prevented skateboard from being legalized in Railroad Plaza and the business district in 1999—former Mayor Mike DiNunzio cast the vote that broke a tie. At the time of the vote, one councilperson was absent.
Yet, Fuller, her committee and Saldutti are determined to give it another shot.
“We will explore and relook at what was discussed in the past,” Fuller said. “We will setup a discussion and work out logistics.”
Saldutti said one of the big things is the huge impact on potential users of the park.
“We want their input,” Saldutti said. “If they will use it, we need to know.”
Fuller said she has always been interested in the topic.
“I see kids skateboard where maybe it’s not such a good idea,” she said. “It’s something they want.”
She said prior discussions were hindered by budget constraints and the like. Previous councils saw a park as a luxury and not a necessity.
“I think it is a need,” she said.
Saldutti said skateboarders are a “group that is underserved.”
“Not in the borough, but in all communities,” he said. “It warrants a look at it.”
Saldutti said at one point Hatfield Township had expressed an interest in starting a park.
“We will reach out and have a discussion,” he said. “We’ll see if there is still an interest.”