Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Skate Park could be ready by summer
More approvals still needed

by Lisa Seiser

October 06, 2011

If planning for the city’s newest park continues on its current trajectory, skaters and BMXers could have a new facility to enjoy by early next summer.

On Sept. 26, members of the City Council voted 6-2 to accept the wheel-friendly plaza design by Mike McIntyre of Action Sports Design. The next step is to solicit bids for construction of the facility.

The park, which is described by McIntyre as “a park you can skate in — not a skate park,” will be located about 500 to 600 feet south of the existing skateboard ramps at Dunn Field off of Sage Street. It also will be closer to existing parking at Eastview Elementary School, have improved sight lines for security, will be closer to restrooms and further away from the school.

The state-of-the-art concrete bowl, wheel-friendly, plaza-style park is expected to cost between $300,000 and $350,000 and, if approved by the council, will be paid for through already-collected Tax Incremental Financing District money. The Sept. 26 vote to go to bid does not ensure the building of the skate park. Members of the City Council will have to approve the winner of the bid and agree to fund the project.

“It’s time to move on this,” Alderman Al Kupsik said prior to the vote. “We have a good design that will work well. If we start this process, there is a good chance it could be completed by next summer. This is something to look forward to.”

Minutes earlier, McIntyre was on hand to answer some key questions about the park, design and construction.

McIntyre said he is hoping to secure the construction numbers this winter and be ready to start work on the park in spring.

Some questions from aldermen concerned putting a fence around the plaza, insurance coverage, costs for construction and who will be able to use the facility.

McIntyre said the plaza is designed to not require fencing around it, but fencing could be added if the city desires.

“A park of this design is really a different concept than what you have right now,” McIntyre said.

The current skate park, which has wooden ramps, is enclosed by fencing. City Administrator Dennis Jordan said the idea used to be to fence areas in for security and safety, but insurance companies no longer encourage fencing.

Alderman Tom Hartz said other city parks don’t have fences around them, why would this one. He also questioned why some would believe the park will be a problem for the city.

“This is not just a skate park,” Kupsik said. “This is a multi-use facility. Skateboarding is probably the major use, but it is a plaza and can be used by everyone.”

Jordan also said the city’s insurance rates should not be affected by the skate plaza. The city already is insuring the current skate park and the city has recreational immunity. Basically, that means people use the facilities at their own risk.

McIntyre also responded to a question about how many people could use the park at the same time. He said the design is completely different than the current park and the new one could allow up to 40 kids skating at a time He also reminded members of the council that more kids skateboard than play soccer or baseball.

The cost of the park, which is about 10,000 square feet, is expected to be around $27 to $30 per square foot. He also believes the design will be conducive for local construction companies to bid on the project.

“This is truly going to be unique,” McIntyre said. “It should be on the map and I am really excited.”

Alderwoman Arleen Krohn and Alderman Terry O’Neill voted against the design and soliciting bids, while Alderwoman Ellyn Kehoe and Aldermen Todd Krause, Hartz, Kupsik, Frank Marsala and Bill Mott voted in favor of moving forward with the concept.

In late May, the City Council voted 5-3 to spend $30,000 for design and engineering services for the skate park. Since then, meetings have been held with Action Sports Development of California and local skaters and BMXers to discuss design elements for the park.

The city’s Park Board has been discussing building a new skate park for a couple of years. There is $550,000 in the city’s Tax Incremental Financing District project fund for a new facility. The tax increment money is already collected to the tune of more than $6 million right now.

ASD was chosen as the design firm out of a total of four of the top skate park designers in the world. ASD, of Carlsbad, Calif., has designed and built with Who Skates parks all over the country, including St. Cloud, Minn., and Denver. McIntyre and ASD are considered among the top skate park design firms in the country and world.