Parks Board Wants Input From Skating Community

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana www.thecouriertimes.com

Parks board wants input from skating community

Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 6:00 am

New Castle leaders have made it a priority to build a safe, attractive, high-quality skatepark in the coming years. The city parks board wants local skateboarders and trick bike riders to be involved in the research and design process.

“The skatepark’s coming,” New Castle Parks Board President Patty Broyles said Tuesday. “I want to do this right.”

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Broyles said a project of this kind is outside of the comfort zone of New Castle’s older citizens. The parks board needs to hear design ideas and cost estimates from the skater community, Broyles said.

The five-year master plan for New Castle parks includes creation of a skate park for local skateboarders, BMX riders and fans of other “extreme sports.” Their input is important because few local government leaders know what a switch ollie is or how to do perform the perfect tailslide. 

“Hopefully, we’re giving them as a community what they want,” Broyles said.

BMX bike rider Wes Huddleston was involved a community effort 10 years ago to create a public skatepark. The city eventually allowed skaters to set up temporary ramps in Osborne Park. Huddleston called this “just a band aid on the problem.” Without strong community support and financial backing, a generation of kids put in a lot of work and never saw anything come from it, Huddleston said. New Castle has no options for BMX and skateboard riders, he added.

“The wooden ramps in Osborne were just relocated used ramps that I had already been riding for nearly two years prior and were in rough condition at the start,” Huddleston said. “It’s time to get this park in motion and show the past supporters and kids that the work they put in wasn’t for nothing.”

Broyles has said in the past that she doesn’t even consider the set up at Osborne Park to be a legitimate option for skateboarders. She feels that a skatepark in Baker, near the Babe Ruth diamonds and Aquatic Center, would be safer for the skaters and their families to visit. Baker Park is highly visible and is well-patrolled by New Castle police, Broyles said.

New Castle welding instructor and BMS rider Steven Vitatoe has been riding on skateparks for 15 years. Vitatoe said he has been waiting to see New Castle become a more “teen friendly” town for a long time. He also wants to see the community as a whole become more active.

“I really think a skatepark could be a huge step in the right direction, if it is done right,” Vitatoe said.

The community has already seen what happens when a skatepark is put together poorly, Vitatoe said. A successful skatepark needs to be designed and built by professionals who have previously worked on skateparks. It will also need a predetermined maintenance schedule and funds for the maintenance. No one will use a run-down skatepark, and it can become an eyesore for the neighborhood, Vitatoe said.

“My dream skatepark for this area would be almost anything,” Vitatoe said. “I really just want to see something safe, functional, and long lasting to give the youth of this community something new and exciting to help lower the drug usage and the sedentary lifestyles.” 

Broyles wants to organize a public committee at the next parks board meeting to help design New Castle’s skatepark. Huddleston thinks that a lot of the original support has returned to New Castle and are now adults. They are police officers, school teachers, home owners and parents,” Huddleston said.

“The support is still present; the city just has to listen,” he said.

Vitatoe thinks the skatepark committee should involve a police officer who can look at lighting and fencing needs, as well as someone in the construction industry who understands the pros and cons of different building materials, and someone with a finance background. Vitatoe suggested the parks board also include someone who does landscaping to help beautify the skatepark.

“I believe if it looks nice the people in the community who won’t be using it will be more likely to accept it maybe even get behind the project if it is removing an eyesore,” Vitatoe said.

Vitatoe said it is very important that young teens be a major part of the project. It could be a good learning experience for them, he said. In the past, skatepark supporters mentioned that teens might take better care of the park if they had a hand in creating it.

The next hurdle to the skatepark project will be paying for it.

Broyles has been working with Eric Frye of Administrative Resources Association (ARa) to find ways to fund the skatepark. She is also considering applying for a Food and Beverage grant. The grants are designed to promote economic development and tourism. A high-quality local skatepark would help both of those areas, Broyles said.

“We’re asking people to come move here. These are going to be young people. They have kids,” Broyles said.

The skatepark will be something that parents can offer their kids. The park could also attract skating competitions and tournaments, which would increase revenue at local restaurants and other businesses, Broyles said.

Huddleston set up a crowdfunding campaign last week at www.gofundme.com/mcp5vux8 to help pay for a New Castle skatepark. Donations can also be made directly into the New Castle Extreme Park Non-Reverting Fund at the New Castle Clerk-Treasurer’s office.

“The community needs this dream and together we can make it a reality,” Huddleston said. “Don’t give up on the sport you love. The more you put in to it, the more you’ll get out.”

The next New Castle Parks Board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. March 7 in council chambers on the second floor of the municipal building, 227 N. Main St., New Castle. The meeting is open to all interested persons.