Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Kenton looks for skate park site

Fast-rolling kids need a safe place

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Officials in Kenton County are searching for the ideal site to build a skate park, in hopes of duplicating the success of a popular facility in Middletown, Ohio.

        “Right now, we're trying to build up support,” said Fort Wright Administrator Larry Klein, who heads a countywide skate park committee. “If we're talking about doing this with the cities and the county, we will need a lead agency. We're hoping the (Kenton) Fiscal Court will take the lead.”

        Over the past month, the Kenton County Mayors Group has expressed interest in the project. Mr. Klein said the next step will be for him to attend a meeting of the Kenton County Recreation Commission, and seek that group's support.

        Boone County officials also are exploring the feasibility of a skate park, but they are putting off any decisions until they receive a long-awaited parks and recreation plan from the Lexington firm of Brandstetter and Carroll, said John Stanton, Boone County's deputy county administrator.

        Supporters of skate parks say they give in-line skaters and skateboarders a safe place to practice their twists, turns and rolls, away from parking lots, businesses and traffic.

        “I won't deny that property does get messed up when we skate, but we've got no place to go,” said Steve Corken, a 15-year-old from Erlanger who skates nearly every day. “I don't think there's a spot that we've gone to that we haven't been shooed away from.”

        Besides finding a site for a skate park, Kenton County officials also must decide how to pay for it, Mr. Klein said.

        “I think a skate park definitely would be used,” said Kenton County Commissioner Adam Koenig, a member of the county's skate park committee. “It might turn out to be our best-used park.”

        Possible sites for a Kenton County skate park include Pioneer Park and various school properties, because they're accessible to public transportation and already have public restrooms, supporters said.

        Like Middletown, which financed most of its 10-month-old skate park with the help of a local firm, Kenton County officials hope to find a major sponsor, and rely largely on private donations when it comes to funding.

        Thanks to donations of labor, materials, and supplies, Middletown paid only $40,000 to develop a skate park that would have cost $500,000 to $600,000 to build, had the project been bid, said Denise Bolton, recreation administrator for the city of Middle town.

        Baker Concrete Construction Co. donated much of the material and labor for Middletown's skate park, and the Monroe, Ohio, firm worked with the city to solicit donations from 24 other companies, Mrs. Bolton said.

        Today, the Baker Bowl Skate Park draws 75 to 100 youths from throughout the Tristate at any given time, and it has attracted skaters from as far away as California, Mrs. Bolton said.


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