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Kids step forward with skateboarding plan

Chad Nelson, Wadena, shares ideas for skate park improvements with the Wadena City Council.

The Wadena City Council reacted positively to improvement plans for the Northwest Skate Park a group of area young people presented at Tuesday night's council meeting.

Chad Nelson, of Wadena, acted as spokesman for the group.

Nelson gave the council printouts showing the skate park with new equipment they are interested in adding to the three pieces already there. They would like to add a ramp with a platform and set of stairs, a pyramid, double the fun box and modify the two quarter pipes by adding a flat platform on top. They would also like to add a 20-foot-by-90-foot section of concrete to the skate park.

Councilwoman Kay Browne asked Nelson to prioritize the equipment.

The ramp with a platform and set of stairs is probably the first priority, Nelson said. It is designed off what is at the elementary school.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said that place is used a lot despite a sign saying the area is for pedestrians only.

Nelson said it gets used every single day when it's nice out.

"They come out there and chew us out for it, but it's so much fun, it's hard to stay off," he said.

He thinks the piece of equipment resembling it would really get used out at the skate park.

Nelson and the other skaters visited the council after the Wadena Park Board held a meeting May 5 to get input from youth about the skate park. The city was denied a Tony Hawk Foundation grant in February and the foundation indicated a reason was general concern that the city had not raised much of the cost for the project and did not provide enough evidence of the skaters' participation. Public Works Director Ron Bucholz said there was a good turnout at the meeting and a lot of interest in improvements from those who came.

"I'm thinking we can get something going and then reapply for the grant," Bucholz said. "Last time they said we didn't have enough local contributions or youth involvement. Well, we've got a lot of youth involvement now."

Bucholz is also going to check with the city's insurance provider about the possibility of creating some of the new skate park features from concrete. The skate park in Detroit Lakes is made from concrete, he said. The concrete would be more permanent. A Sentencing to Service crew could pour the concrete, he said.

Nelson said he and other skateboarders agreed to help out and do some of the work themselves.

Councilman Toby Pierce attended the skate park meeting May 5 and said maybe twice as many young men attended as came to the council meeting. They really want these improvements, he said.

"I'm 100 percent for this," Pierce said.

He made a motion to make the $5,000 the council set aside for the skate park available for improvements. He asked Bucholz to come to the council with what he thinks the suggested improvements will cost. They can try and find more funding from local foundations and other sources, he said.

"I guess the same old point here is where do we want these young people to be?" Pierce said.

Besides, he said, skateboarding makes for quite a workout.

"The point is these young men are probably in better condition ... than a lot of youngsters that don't get this exercise," Pierce said.

Wolden suggested Nelson and the others look into the possibility of holding a fundraising event.

"I think you'd see a lot of support," Wolden said.