For just under 900,000 last year, Woodstock added it’s first permanent Skate Park, a 670 square metre outdoor park that is both skate and bike friendly. It was a two year process to have it built but one that was well worth the wait. Having a purpose built facility keeps riders and skaters off busy roads and sidewalks.
The St. Thomas skate park was recently closed down due to safety concerns. Documents on The city of St. Thomas website provide not only the documentation from PlayChek, the company that was contracted to ensure that the skate park was safe, but also several pages of photographic evidence of the safety issues that resulted in the shutdown. The report seems to suggest that the metal formed equipment was of a cheaper design and therefore had understandably deteriorated.
It seems that while there is an obvious demand for a skate park, it seems that perhaps the location as well as the construction was not optimal. Although an outdoor skate park allows for exercise out of doors, it does limit the amount of time during the year that can be used. With regards to the location, centrally placed would allow for the easiest access for all but it has to be dependant on the location available. It would be wrong to put the park in a fairly central location only to have to build it in an unsuitable place.
In the ideal world, a new skate park would be located on the waste ground opposite the Timken Centre, thus making it central to all with easy access. It would be in a pre-fabricated building, steel construction and well lit surrounding area. The actual park would be formed concrete and designed by a professional company, experienced in this sort of construction. The hours of operation would be evenings during the week and full days during weekends and school holidays.
While it would require one, possibly two full time positions being created, the positions could be fulfilled by passionate experienced bikers and skaters who, while making sure of safety at all times, could perhaps encourage and teach newer users to the park. Anyone taking these positions would need to have both first aid certifications and any training needed to treat any possible injuries that may occur at the park. They would also be able to enforce that all users of the park wear the correct safety equipment at all times. The opportunity to house a retail outlet for skate equipment would allow new users to purchase what is needed. If the store could not be run by the City, with profits being returned to the city coffers, then the store would have to be a recognized skate friendly store.
Once such a park was established, the opportunities would be there to create events in and around it. It would become an attraction all of it’s own and with more visitors perhaps become part of a larger recreational project. Placed in close vicinity to the Timken Centre would allow a cross over of ice skating and in-line skating as well as a pooling of facilities. Also having a skate track around the edge of the park, both inside and outside would allow skaters of all ages to exercise all year round and therefore adding another positive to the project.
To get such a project off the ground it would have to involve the skate community as well as local businesses, and potentially national. Case studies would have to be made. Investigations into size of the park, facilities and design of the park would have to involve responsible members of the skate community. It would create an educational experience for all parties involved.
Once costs had been established and construction companies chosen, funds would have to be raised. The skating community should be responsible for part of the cost, even only a token amount as many school aged skaters would not have the financial support to contribute a large amount. If possible, selling the name of the facility would help bring more funds in as well as opportunities such as TSN‘s Kraft Challenge which could posssibly bring $25,000.
The reason for doing all this, is as they say, for the kids. It will help prevent skaters finding themselves on streets and sidewalks, in potentially hurting themselves or others. It will give kids the opportunity to have a safe place to spend time and enjoy themselves and also be a shining jewel in the crown of St. Thomas.