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Skate park plan needs backing

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New Richmond,Wisconsin 54017 http://www.newrichmond-news.com/sites/all/themes/newrichmondnews_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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Skate park plan needs backing
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

The New Richmond Area YMCA is starting to ramp up its fund raising efforts for a new city skate park.

If all goes according to plan, the new facility will be playing host to skateboarders, in-line skaters and BMX bikers by this summer. The park will be located next to the New Richmond Sports Center.

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According to YMCA director Darian Blattner, the design for the new skate park is completed. Preliminary plans lay out a three-phase project.

The first phase will include asphalt, fencing and a few simple ramps and jumps. Total estimated cost for the first phase is $65,000.

The second phase, which will add more elements to the park, will cost about $25,000 and the final phase will cost $20,000.

"If we are able to raise enough money to do the whole project, the total cost would be $110,000," Blattner said. "If we were able to do that, it would be one of the best skate parks, if not the best skate park, in western Wisconsin."

A committee of young skateboarders spent several months designing the New Richmond park, Blattner said, and the proposed lay-out is impressive.

"It wasn't we adults telling the kids what kind of park they should have," Blattner said. "They came up with the kind of park they'd like to have."

The YMCA, city of New Richmond and the skateboarders are now focusing on raising money to get the first phase completed. The city has already committed $20,000 to the project and $1,000 in private donations has been collected.

Blattner said skate park backers hope to raise the remaining $40,000 for the first phase over the next month, with the goal of having the facility open by the end of May.

"Hopefully it's a number that's manageable enough," he said.

Blattner said volunteers will soon be contacting area businesses and individuals to gather donations. Donations for the project will be funneled through the non-profit YMCA and will be tax deductible.

"This is a project that has to be owned by the community," Blattner said. "We can only go as far as the community responds to the skate park. We want to make this the best park we can."

Once open, the park is sure to be a big hit, according to Blattner. Already about 250 skateboarders and in-line skaters use the YMCA's indoor ramps and jumps.

"It works to have it inside for the winter," he said. "But they'd rather be outside when the weather is warm. They're excited about the potential for the park."

Skateboarders currently frequent spots downtown for their warm-weather riding, but Blattner said that often leads to complaints from community residents.

"It's a group of kids who get a bad rap at times, because of the long pants and because there's a stigma that comes with skateboarding," he said. "They want a place to go and this may help their reputation some."

Parents will also be happy that the skate park, when open, will have a supervisor on duty, Blattner said.

"We want to make sure it's safe," he said. "We'll have rules and guidelines for the skateboarders and others to follow. Parents of a fifth grader can feel comfortable that their child is safe, even if there are high school students there too."

Among the rules at the park will be required use of helmets with chin straps. Pads will also be "strongly suggested."

The paid staff person will be on hand for emergency situations if all the safety measures fail to protect park users, which should help put people's minds at ease, Blattner said.

"If they push things to the point where they get injured, the idea is to have someone there to take care of those injuries," he noted.

Aside from addressing safety issues, Blattner said use of the skate park will be affordable. Rates for a two-hour session are $1 and a three-hour session is $2. Monthly passes will be on sale for $40 and a season pass will be $150. A 12-punch card will be priced at $24.

"We want to make sure it's accessible for all kids," he said. "Yet we have to make sure we cover the cost of the staff."

Once the facility is open, Blattner said the skate park's season will run April through September. If warm weather extends into October, the park could remain open a few additional weeks.

If the park is completed by this summer, hours will be Monday through Friday, 9-11 a.m., 1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.; Saturdays 1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.; and Sundays 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.

During the school year, hours would be 3:30-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

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