Skaters — your time has come.
Lansdale Borough Parks and Recreation Committee is officially in the infancy stages of bringing a skate park to Lansdale Borough.
"We have an underserved population in our community: the skateboarders," Saldutti said. "To enhance what we do and provide for that group, we earmarked a skate park. We would like to move that forward."
Parks and Recreation Director Carl Saldutti said Wednesday night about $300,000 in seed money has been earmarked in the proposed 2013 budget for development of a skate park.
"If you want to put in a concrete structure for a skate park, that was running somewhere around $32 a square foot. We were looking at a 10,000-square-foot facility — 100 by 100. So, we came up with the ballpark of $300,000," Saldutti said.
The first major step, he said, is finding the right location for the skate park.
"Where does it make the most sense to do that?" Saldutti said. "We want to assess our assets."
Chief Robert McDyre, Borough Manager Timi Kirchner, Saldutti and Parks and Recreation Committee Chairwoman Mary Fuller have been brainstorming potential locations.
Saldutti made it clear — the borough will not be designing the park.
"We want to site it at the right spot, and once we do that, then design comes into play," he said. "We're not going to design it. We're going to get input of users."
The plan: Form a panel of skateboarders, ranging from youths to adults, who represent the community to be involved in the project.
"We'll want to hear from them. We'll want to know the elements that they feel are crucial for a successful skate park," Saldutti said.
Once skateboarders give input, then they can appreciate the park.
"They have given their input and ownership in stock. We want them to be stakeholders, then there's a sense of ownership and proprietorship and they want to protect it," Saldutti said. "Those elements are key in having a successful project."
Fuller said the users must be involved in the process all along the way, and that includes design, input and location.
"The more skin they have in the game, the less likely damage will happen (to the park). Not only will they have a vested interest, but they will feel responsibility to make sure others don't damage their park," Fuller said.
A skate park was originally earmarked in the 2010 Lansdale General Obligation Bond as an expense to enhance parks and recreation activities in the borough.
"Council is looking at another bond borrowing," Saldutti said. "I can't speak for council. Hopefully, this group will endorse what we're doing, and when it goes to council, hopefully they embrace it as well and decide where the money will be coming from."
Saldutti said fundraising on the part of the community and even grant writing will be part of the process moving forward.
"Seed money is available from individuals involved in that sport," he said. "We'll be researching that as well. Mary (Fuller) has given me a lead already."
Fuller reiterated that the skateboarders are at the front of the committee's thought process.
"We think they are underserved," she said. "It is something that is needed. We want their input."
Fuller said the committee is recognizing skateboarders need a place to do their thing.
At present, skaters are often chased out of strip malls and the downtown district, where they take to railings, curbs and the like for grinding and tricks.
Skaters in the Wedgewood development have taken to making their own unofficial skate park at an old tennis court.
"If we are going to put the time and energy and money and research and manpower into finding the right place and putting this together, let's make sure the users we intend it to be for will use it," Fuller said.
Public safety will play a big part into the development of the park. Fuller said police will be involved, but not in a negative way.
"We hope to offset that stigma of skate parks being gathering places for crime and drugs by virtue of the location we choose," she said. "The park not being hidden away or off the beaten path, but visible, will help."
Lansdale Borough does have a skateboarding ban, established in 1999, upon any sidewalk, municipal park and municipal parking lot in the downtown business district only. Per the ordinance, the downtown business district is Main Street from Valley Forge Road to Line Street, and Vine Street from Broad Street to Richardson Avenue. Basketball and tennis courts are prohibited to skateboarders too.
Saldutti said it's about giving people of the skateboarding culture a place to go in the borough.
"This isn't a fad," he said. "We're starting to see other things other than the mainstream, like football and baseball, start to develop and become popular."
Saldutti even hinted at the possibility of competitive skateboarding teams forming in the future in Lansdale through use of the skate park.
Furthermore, Saldutti said there is a knock on the youth of today being obese. Skateboarders, he said, are more than just active; they have agility, dexterity, durability and coordination.
"Why hinder that?" said Fuller.
Where would you like to see a skate park in Lansdale? Tell us in the comments!
Read past articles on the topic of a Lansdale skate park:
- Lansdale Skate Park Development Poised for 2013
- Skate Park Funding in Proposed Budget
- Back to the Grind