Baker Park Future Site of Extreme Sports Park

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Baker Park future site of Extreme Sports Park

Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 6:00 am

New Castle is moving closer to having a concrete arena for local skateboarders and BMX riders. The volleyball courts at Baker Park is the future site of the New Castle Extreme Sports Park.

A mix of skateboarders and BMX bikers attended the city parks board meeting Monday night to share their ideas about a skatepark. Several young men brought their favorite board with them to the council chambers. The skaters and their supporters numbered more than a dozen.

As the weather gets nicer, adults and teens on skateboards may be taking to the streets and parking lots to practice their skills. The New Castle Parks Board has included a permanent, high-quality skatepark on its list of projects to accomplish in 2016, said Mayor Greg York.

“If you don’t have a skatepark, your city is the park,” York said.

The mayor complimented the focus that the board has put into creating a dedicated space for local extreme sports enthusiasts.

Parks board president Patty Broyles came to the meeting with a packet of information and examples of other skateparks around the country. Board vice president Dave Nantz is planning to contact experienced skatepark manufacturing firms, like Hunger Skateparks out of Bloomington.

“We’re moving as fast as we can,” Broyles said.

Broyles and Nantz organized a skatepark committee to help get the park designed and financed. Broyles said the mayor will also be on the committee, along with Mary Abbott, Rex Peckinpaugh and Aaron Dicken of the city council, with New Castle Police Chief Brad Catron and Henry County Sheriff Ric McCorkle representing local law enforcement.

Broyles said it is also important to have input from the skaters who will be using the park and their parents. The committee is also looking for representatives from local nonprofits, as well as local business owners and educators.

“When it comes down to designing, I’m going to need you guys,” Broyles told the skaters in the audience.

York said the designated area for the future skatepark is about 85 feet by 87 feet, just under 7,400 square feet. He has challenged the local skater community with designing a park to fit that space.

Broyles hopes the city will also have enough space to build a skatepark for athletes of all skill level. She anticipates that it will become a community landmark.

It was hard for the skateboarders and bikers to put a figure on how many people would use the park. They all agreed, however, that the park would be put to use.

Longtime BMX rider Steven Vitatoe pointed out that the park should accommodate skateboarders, bike riders, scooters and anyone else on wheels who wants to show off their skills on a ramp. Fellow rider Wes Huddleston said many of the people he grew up riding bikes with travel out of town on the weekends because “there’s nothing here for us to ride.”

Local skateboarder Jesse Allen was involved in the grassroots movement years ago to build a skatepark in that same location. Allen was home from college on spring break and took time to be at the meeting.

“It’s good to see people are keeping it going,” Allen said. “It’s a large commitment. For the city to get involved. ... I’m just really thankful that they’ve put something together for us.”

Anthony Lee is looking forward to taking his daughter to the skatepark and teaching her the sport as she gets older.

Skateboarder Chance Smith looks forward to the positive effect that the New Castle skatepark will have on the community as a whole. Regular police patrols and increased visibility will help deter unsavory activities at the park, like teen drug usage, Smith said. Older skaters will also be able to look out for younger members of the community since they will have a common place to go.

“It will help bust out bad apples,” Smith said.

Smith said the local skating and biking community is going to need to commit to the park and put their heart into the process if they want to see it finally become a reality. 

“It’s not going to be a park like it is at Osborne Park, just made out of plywood. It is going to take time and effort and money, and we’re not going to halfway do it. It’s going to be a respectable park,” York said.

York compiled a list of more than 20 grant opportunities that the city could pursue to help fund the skatepark, including a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation. The mayor said the city is going to turn over every rock to find money to get the park built for local skaters.

The parks board voted to give Broyles the authority to move forward with fundraising efforts. The mayor said anyone can make a donation for the skatepark directly at the city building, 227 N. Main St., New Castle. 

The New Castle Parks Board meets at 5:30 p.m. April 4 in council chambers at the city building.