OWENSBORO, Ky. (5/2/13) – A public information meeting at City Hall on Tuesday made many skaters in Owensboro very happy, as plans for a new skate park at Chautauqua Park were made public. The meeting, hosted by the Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department, introduced New York based Skate Park Design company Spohn Ranch and their man designated to head up the new project, Hays Hitzing.
Hitzing told those present, which consisted of about 50 local skaters, BMX enthusiasts, and inline skaters, that a 1.3 acre tract of land had been selected at the west corner of Chautauqua Park, at the corner of Parrish and Bluff avenues.
“There are limitations that the site will bring and that the budget will bring,” said Hitzing, “but other than that, we’ve yet to decide what we will do with the design.”
Owensboro Parks and Recreation manager Amanda Rogers credited the local skate community and Owensboro mayor Ron Payne for introducing the idea of the new skate park to the community.
“At a city commission meeting, the mayor said we really need to take this seriously and find what it would take to make this work,” said Rogers. “Between his leadership and the local skate community’s voice, I think those two things are what got us here.”
Owensboro has been without a skate park since Owensboro’s last skate park closed down almost ten years ago. The Owensboro YMCA was in charge of the skate park at Chautauqua Park where wooden ramps were first installed there in 1996. According to Rogers, that park lasted almost 10 years before closing. With it gone, local skaters had to drive between thirty minutes and an hour to find a skate park that they could use. Now, most just find parking lots and parking garages to skate in.
“I’ve been kicked off of almost every sidewalk and parking lot in Owensboro,” one young local skater said. “If you get caught, it’s like a $500 fine and then they take your board. It’s ridiculous. I’m glad the city finally recognized the need.”
Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne took special interest in the skate park project after he talked to a group of skaters at Riverfront Crossing in Smothers Park. As with most other businesses and public venues in Owensboro, he noticed that the skaters were being made to leave.
“I had a really nice talk with that group of skateboarders, and they asked me to find them a place to skate,” said Payne, noting that he thought the group made an excellent case. “I realized that if we were going to forbid them from doing what they loved in our public venues, then it became incumbent upon us to find them a place to skate.”
According to Payne, the more research city officials did on other major communities, the more they came to realize what a popular attraction the skate park could add to Owensboro. He also expressed appreciation for the local skate community for their support of the community in building this skate park.
“I have been so impressed with how much support the skate community in Owensboro has shown,” said Payne. “As with everything else we have done in Owensboro, we are going to build this skate park, and we are going work with the best people to get the best results.”
Payne told SurfKY News up to $800,000 has been budgeted for the project.
Photo provided by Alex Reid
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