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City zeroing in on location for new skate park

The City of New Richmond is currently investigating whether its property just south of the southwest corner of the Hatfield Park parking lot can be used for a skateboard park. A portion of the land may fall within the Wisconsin Department of Transportation right of way for Highway 64. (Imagery ©2015 Google, Map data ©2015 Google)

At its Jan. 19 meeting, the New Richmond Park Board voted to approve a recommendation from the Skate Park Subcommittee to move forward skateboard park planning at a site at Hatfield Park on the city’s north side.

The approval also included $2,500 from impact fees to have American Ramp Company provide design services for the proposed skate park. According to meeting minutes, “The contract with ARC would include meetings with the subcommittee and the public, the development and revision of a skate park design with cost estimates, and the provision of promotional materials to assist the City in fundraising for the skate park.”

According to District 6 Alderman Jim Zajkowski, who is also a longstanding member of the Park Board, the subcommittee also strongly considered a site near the New Richmond Cemetery next to Starr Elementary School.

“At our meeting, everybody weighed the pros and cons of each site,” Zajkowski said. “The pros for Hatfield outweighed the cons.”

Zajkowski said the committee members were worried about upsetting neighbors near the potential cemetery site among other concerns. Even though it isn’t as centrally located, the Hatfield site offers terrific visibility from Highway 64, and the city already owns the land. Zajkowski also noted that parking is readily available for parents and children can safely get to the Hatfield site on a path that goes under the highway and continues west all the way to Freedom Park.

Preliminary concepts call for a concrete slab of about 130 feet by 80 feet, according to Zajkowski. He said early cost estimates are in the $120,000 range for a five-phase preliminary plan put together by Joplin, Mo.-based American Ramp Company. Zajkowski hopes costs could go down if the city is able to do more of the phases at the same time.

While Zajkowski anticipates that a portion of the $120,000 bill will likely come from city impact fees, he credits a $40,000 donation from an anonymous local resident in September for putting the project back on the front burner.

A proposal to accept the $40,000 donation to build the skate park in the Paperjack Greenway last fall drew community opposition, but it also sparked a renewed interest in the dormant skate park idea.

Retired teacher and skate park proponent Lynnete McCarty has been working for years to try to build a skate park for New Richmond’s youth. Multiple potential sites have been examined over the years, but all were rejected for various reasons.

On the other hand, the Hatfield Park site is beginning to show real promise. Zajkowski is optimistic that an additional $40,000 from another donor could soon be on the way, and he hopes to raise even more of the total cost in the coming weeks.

The item will be on the Park Board agenda again in the future, but not until Public Works Director Jeremiah Wendt is able to gain assurances from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation about using property that may currently fall within the highway right of way.

Once that issue is sorted out, Zajkowski intends to invite representatives from American Ramp Company to a meeting to present possible designs and firmer costs.

Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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