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City hears pitch on developing a new skate park

Dec 21, 2012 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Central Wyoming Skateboarding Association approached the Riverton City Council with a proposal to build a new skate park in Riverton.

"We humbly ask for a new location, and if that isn't possible, we'd love to discuss the subject further and try to help any way we can," Matt Wright said.

Wright, a co-chairman of the association, and chairman Chris McNeil presented a video to the city council on Dec. 11 showing why the skate park already in place at City Park was so important to them, as well as problems they have come across.

Wright said the main reason the skaters want to move is because of harassment problems from park goers who are intoxicated.

"I've felt uneasy and at risk and have even left out of fear," Wright said. "If I felt that in my late 20s I can't imagine how a 10-year-old would feel."

He added that many parents won't drop off their kids because of that same fear.

McNeil asked the council to help decide whether a new skate park be constructed in a different park or keep the one in City Park. CWSA presented plans on what kind of new skate park members had in mind.

McNeil said a decision would help the association finalize grant applications before the due dates approached.

Council member Diana Mahoney responded that the city has already begun a process in which volunteers visit City Park and approach people who appear to be homeless or intoxicated.

"We have a bigger police presence there," Mahoney said. "We have several committees in town that are formed that are helping with the alcohol problem that's very visible."

Mahoney emphasized to the association that the council plans to make changes to City Park so more people use it and problems at the park, commonly reported, are fixed.

No "surrender"

Members were reluctant to commit to relocating the skate park.

"My thought is that if we take everything out of city park, then we surrender it," Councilman Richard Gard said. "We have the best city park and the best people to manage our city park."

He said a new skate park would take years to complete. He suggested those using the skate park report incidents of harrassment to the police department.

Parent Amy Green said several business owners don't want to support CWSA unless a new skate park is planned.

"Business owners want nothing to do with this if the skate park will stay in City Park," Green said. "(They) aren't behind it unless they know the city is behind them and are working toward improving city park and its problems."

She asked the council to create some sort of letter that could be distributed to people explaining that the city is already addressing the problems at City Park.

"We need to do whatever we can to gain control," Mayor Ron Warpness said. "We need to support you in every way that we can. We applaud you. You're doing a good job."

The mayor said he was glad so many young people took the initiative to start the group.

"This council has voted to support this skate park 100 percent," Mahoney said.

"Your committee"

"We got together and we want to be your committee," McNeil said. "We are doing our homework, we are a club and we're going to stay a club when everything is done."

He said the association has already done most of the planning, including planning fundraisers. The groups asked council members to reiterate that support to the public so they can support CWSA as well.

"If you design a skate park that succeeds, I believe it can be a gold mine," McNeil said. "People would drive for miles to visit our skate park."

Wright thanked the council for supporting and protecting the skate park.

"We're excited to partner with the city and work on this project for the kids," he said. "Many of us wouldn't have been able to become friends without that park. It means a lot to us."

City Park image

McNeil suggested to the council that the groups desire to renovate the skate park may not change the entire City Park's image and negative reputation, but other improvements could. He said beautifying some sections, or adding a water fountain, could help. Wright added that although there's a fence around the skate park to protect it, removing it could make it seem more connected to the rest of the park.

"Should the skate park even have a fence? Should it be so isolated?" Wright said. "We feel strongly that just having a nice new skate park alone isn't going to help fix the big problems."

McNeil also suggested moving the skate park closer to Federal Boulevard and even adding a dog park.

Grant opportunity

CWSA also announced to the council that the American Ramp Company approved a grant for the group with an unusual donation of 30 percent for every $100,000 raised locally. McNeil said the company not only really liked their logo of a cowboy skateboarding but also commended them for putting a club together.

He said the company said that's uncommon in other communities. The grant would include free custom artwork on equipment.

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