Wanted: skateboarders with enthusiasm
The Wadena Park Board wants young people to give input on the Northwest Playground skate park during a special meeting 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 5 at the park.
The city of Wadena applied for a $15,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation to improve the park, but was notified in February it did not get the grant. One of the reasons indicated in the letter was general concern that the city had not raised much of the more than $39,000 cost for the project and did not provide enough evidence of the skaters' participation.
The city has $5,000 in its budget for the skate park and the company selling the equipment offered to match whatever the Tony Hawk Foundation granted up to $15,000.
Public Works Director Ron Bucholz would like to give the grant another shot, he said, but wants to hear from local skateboarders and roller bladers first about what they think the skate park needs.
"If we have this meeting on the fifth and nobody shows up then we're going to feel, well, the city youth are satisfied with what we have," he said. "So hopefully we get a good turnout and generate some real excitement."
Lenny Anderson, a park board member and neighbor of the Northwest Playground, said a lot of skateboarders use the park.
"On a given night there's probably 6-10 here on weeknights ... after school," he said. "On weekends [it] probably doubles that."
Anderson tries to talk with the new people he sees at the park, he said. They come from New York Mills, Sebeka, Staples and Henning.
Tony Hawk also expressed concern about the type of modular system the city is considering, according to the letter from a Foundation representative. They don't consider it durable enough for municipal use. Ramps made from concrete or with steel frames is what they recommend, according to the letter.
Concrete is long-lasting, but very expensive, Anderson said.
The city installed the skate park's current features over the course of a few years, Bucholz said. A couple of years ago about a half dozen kids drew out what they wanted, but that would have cost more like $100,000. The skaters at the time wanted something with more "flow," Bucholz said, something they could continue on.
The area is big enough to get done what they want, he said. If kids come to the meeting and say no they don't need all that, they just want one or two more pieces, then that is what the city will work on doing.
The park board posted notices at the Cyber Cafe and other places in town letting youth know about the meeting.
"We're trying to get the word out," Bucholz said. "We want to give it one more try."