Thursday, March 29th, 2012
By William Kincaid
Proposed skateboard park scooted to new location
  CELINA - The location of a proposed skateboard park has been changed from Mercelina Park to the old tennis court at Westview Park.
"They (local skateboarders) are looking at something there right now," Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel said Wednesday afternoon.
Hazel attributed the site relocation to a lack of funds on the skateboarders' part. City engineer Kent Bryan had estimated a skateboard park at Mercelina Park near the basketball courts would cost up to $250,000 and could be built in phases.
"They don't have the money," Hazel said.
The latest site recommendation contains an asphalt base that possibly could be incorporated into the design, Hazel said.
The kids also could use the tennis court site much sooner since the base is there. Ramps could be added as funding is secured, city safety service director Tom Hitchcock said.
Starting a project at the tennis courts is much more practical than starting a new construction project from scratch, the mayor said.
"We want to see them be successful in this venture, but the (skatepark) is not a general fund item," he said.
Keith Gudorf, who has supervised the local skateboarders' efforts to get a park in Celina, said the teens are working with a design company they hired to see if the asphalt base could be used.
"I think the kids are at the point that they just need a place where they can skate," he said. "Any place to skate is better than no place to skate."
Gudorf said he has helped with the skateboarders' cause since 2006 but pointed out the efforts have been going on since the 1980s.
"Yeah, they're discouraged," Gudorf said. "In the process, they learn how these things go. It's just the way it is."
With the city backing a location, Gudorf hopes people previously skeptical about the park will be convinced of its inevitability and contribute toward it.
"I think what we need to do now is to begin to fund raise with that location in mind," he said.
Local skateboarders spearheading the project have raised about $35,000. The group hired Spohn Ranch of California to create a park design, and after paying for the work, estimate they will have about $15,000 to $16,000. The city also will contribute $10,000 from a natural gas aggregation program and has a $10,000 Tony Hawk Foundation grant.
The grant was received in 2009, and the city was extended a deadline until Sunday to spend the money. The city has submitted a letter asking for another extension.
Peter Whitley, programs director with the Tony Hawk Foundation, said as long as grant recipients continue to make strides toward creating a skatepark and regularly provide updates, the non-profit organization is usually understanding.
"We're watching, we're here to support them and we're eager to see development occur," Whitley said.
Celina appears to be in a traditional holding pattern, said Whitley, a co-founder and former director of Skaters For Public Skateparks and author of "Public Skateboard Development Guide."
"It generally takes months or so," he said. "It depends on how much momentum they got into it with."
The Tony Hawk Foundation as of March 12 has helped fund more than 500 skateparks in all 50 states. Total grants awarded by the foundation since launching in 2002 has surpassed $4 million.
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