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Community counts cost of no skate park

Community counts cost of no skate park
Community counts cost of no skate park
Jamie Morris, 15, of Corydon, catches air while skateboarding off the steps beside the Gerdon Youth Center in downtown Corydon last month. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

The high cost of insurance thwarted drives to open skate parks in Corydon and Lanesville several years ago, but now it’s the cost of not having a skate park that Harrison County is weighing.
‘They trespass, and people worry about liability. They take skateboards down the center of the streets, and I worry about them getting run over. Not all, but the majority of them are really careless,’ said Chief Marshal Jim Kendall of the Corydon Police Dept.
The best solution ‘for their safety’ would be a skate park, Kendall said.
Palmyra town council member George Morgan agreed.
He said the elected body was looking for a place where skateboarders ‘can have their enjoyment and maybe stay a little safe.’
‘It’s hard to tell kids where they can’t be, until you can say where they can go,’ Morgan said.
Five Corydon skaterboarding teens interviewed for this article said they are often told where they can’t be. In fact, they said, they can’t be anywhere.
‘We skate in parking lots or sidewalks when they are clear, but we still get kicked out. We get kicked out of everywhere we go,’ said 13-year-old Justis Davison.
Would he attend a skate park in Corydon? ‘All the time,’ he said.
Kirby Bachman, a ‘skater mom,’ assisted a group of teens in their efforts to have a skate park built in Harrison County. Their group was called Harrison County Sk8ers, and they tried for three years to establish a park.
‘We took the idea to the Gerdon Youth Center. They were hugely supportive of taking on the project,’ Bachman said.
Furthering Youth Inc., the decision-making body of GYC, agreed to assume ongoing maintenance and management once a skate park was constructed. Space would have to be rented, and for that they went to the Harrison County Parks Dept.
‘It just really seemed like the parks department did everything they could to keep it from happening,’ Bachman said, adding that FYI withdrew because ‘they didn’t feel the parks department was negotiating in good faith.’
At that time, two sites under discussion included park property at the May and Joe Rhoads Memorial Pool in Corydon and Walter Q. Gresham Park in Lanesville. The Sk8ers were met at parks department meetings by vocal opponents of both locations.
The department has since come under new leadership.
Claudia Howard, director of Harrison County Parks Dept., said ‘The take that I’ve gotten was that the liability issue was pretty great.’
She said her feeling was that insurance for a skate park would still be cost- prohibitive.
Bachman said the project had always belonged to the kids. One of the Harrison County Sk8ters, Shaun Rainbolt, had even hoped to use it to reach the rank of eagle in the Boy Scouts of America. Now, she said, those kids have grown and the Sk8ters are no more.
There are some, however, who hope to renew the effort.
Tom Marlatt, owner of Old Capital Bicycle Shop, has a petition of more than 500 signatures from Harrison County parents who endorse a local skate park.
Though once regarded as a counterculture pastime, skateboarding and a variety of so-called ‘extreme sports’ have entered mainstream culture. ESPN provides coverage of skating events, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk endorses a top-selling video game, and pop singer Avril Lavigne charted her ‘Sk8er Boi.’
Marlatt claims more kids skateboard than play organized baseball.
But, he said, adult perception is still catching up.
‘Eight kids told me a local cop said, ‘What do you think this is, Louisville? This is Corydon. Go get a fishing pole,’ ‘ Marlatt said.
Marlatt, Bachman and other Harrison County parents have suggested the YMCA as host for a skate park.
‘It’s never been brought to our attention,’ said Catherine Turcotte, the YMCA’s executive director.
‘If someone wants to present this as a concept, then it would have to go before the board of directors, and they would have to establish funding for it. It would probably require a fund-raising campaign,’ she said.
Though Bachman said she wasn’t sure skaters are ready for the family friendly environment of the YMCA, three of the five interviewed were already members. The other two said they would definitely join for a skate park.
Turcotte said, however, that she is concerned about the impact a YMCA skate park might have on GYC membership.
David Dillman, president of Furthering Youth Inc., said his board would welcome a fresh proposal for a GYC skate park.
‘It hasn’t been before our board in a long time,’ Dillman said.
Insurance costs would not automatically rule out a skate park. Funding would have to be acquired just as it was to pay the considerable fee to insure the center’s indoor climbing wall, Dillman said.
And finding a site might not be as difficult this time around. GYC has acquired more property since the initial proposal.