Sunday, January 16, 2000

Cities consider skate park

Kenton could follow Lexington's example

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        EDGEWOOD — City officials in Kenton County may soon talk seriously about working together to build a skate park.

        There has been so much interest in several cities that a committee has been formed to study the idea, but officials are worried about liability.

        “It seems that the issue can be overcome,” said Fort Wright City Administrator Larry Klein at a mayor's group meeting Saturday.

        Lexington recently completed a skate park, where teens and adults can roll, twist and grind on in-line skates and skateboards.

        Officials there say they think that the park is covered under the recreational-user statute but purchased a separate liability policy just in case, Mr. Klein said. Lexington will keep the policy in place for a few years to see if there are any claims.

        “They ended up with a facility they believe is going to be successful,” Mr. Klein said.

        Mayors and city administrators from across the county seemed open to the idea.

        “There is that desire out there,” said Erlanger City Administrator Bill Scheyer. “There are tons of young people out there in the community doing it in the Kroger parking lot,” he said.

        “If we could do something on a regional basis, I think it would be positive. If we get going on it, without a whole lot of money, we can do it.”

        Another suggestion was to work with schools.

        “Most importantly, I think, is to involve the kids from the outset,” Mr. Klein said.

        Earlier this year a group of teens and their parents approached the Boone County Parks and Recreation Department and asked officials to add a skating facility to the county's master plan for parks.

        A committee is working on priorities for Boone County parks and soon will make recommendations to the fiscal court. The group is considering the skate park.

        Some in Greater Cincinnati travel as far as Indianapolis to practice in-line skating. But most drive to Middletown, where an estimated $500,000 state-of-the-art facility opened in June.

        The Middletown facility was funded in part by Baker Concrete Construction Inc. of Monroe, which offered to donate supplies and labor after skaters complained to city commissioners about having nowhere to go. The city and about 20 other businesses joined to build the park.

        Ohio is among the top 10 in-line markets in the nation, according to the Aggressive Skaters Association in California.

        Parks have opened or are planning to open all across the region.

        Louisville has a 4,500-square-foot facility in Breslin Park on the eastern edge of downtown and, partly because of the ESPN X-Trials held in the city during the 1999 Derby Festival, another is on the drawing board.

        Adults and teens in Lexington worked for three years with city officials and a nonprofit group called the Triangle Foundation, which uses private money for public good. The nonprofit organization paid for the park.

        Owensboro also has a facility.

        A committee composed of Kenton County officials is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the proposal and will report back to the mayor's group Feb. 26.

        “The next question is what the interest would be, where do we build it, and who would maintain it?” Mr. Klein said.


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