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Push for skate park gains momentum

Push for skate park gains momentum
Push for skate park gains momentum
Jack Albrecht makes a move on his skateboard during a pop-up event June 6 in downtown Corydon to promote a push for a skate park in the town. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Isaac Gleitz, Contributing Writer

When a kid really wants something, he or she will find a way to get it. While some kids want ice cream, others want half pipes and handrails.

Sam Miller of Corydon has been skating for 16 years. Growing up, Miller would regularly hitch a ride with his father, who worked as a welder in Louisville, just for the opportunity to whip out his skateboard. He would spend the whole day skating while his father worked from around 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.

His friend Gary Graves from Elizabeth also struggled to skate. Because rural Harrison County had little to offer, Graves’ mother built him a make-shift ramp with two angled pieces of plywood and gave him her old skateboard from the ’80s.

“I picked up my first skateboard when I was 8 years old,” Graves said.

Together, Miller and Graves are lobbying for the construction of a skate park in Corydon to foster a more welcoming environment for skaters, bikers and bladers.

“We are so looking forward to this for ourselves too, but we’re also needing something for these kids,” Graves said. “We don’t want newer generations of skaters growing up in the same environment that we grew up in, not having anywhere to go to.”

Miller and Graves have worked tirelessly to organize the Corydon skating community. That was put on display on Sunday, June 6, when 200 to 250 people showed up to watch tricks and flips at a pop-up skate park on a portion of Elm Street in downtown Corydon before the annual Harrison County Fair parade. After the two-hour event, dozens of skaters joined the parade as part of a mobile skate-park float.

Corydon town manager Scott Flickner and town council president Lester (Les) Rhoads have been working with Miller and Graves and said they support the push for a skate park. They see the need for one and the potential for local growth.

“It’s not just for a group of a few individuals; it’s for the entire community,” Flickner said. “And if you were at the fair last week during their demonstration, you would have seen the humongous turnout.”

Aside from offering an economic benefit from newfound visitors, Rhoads said a skate park would mitigate the safety concerns of street skating. It would also be a reason for people to get out of the house.

Both Rhoads and Flickner said planning the park is a priority.

“We do want to help; we really do,” Flickner said. “It’s just a lengthy process.”

The location of a park is yet to be determined, Flickner said, as the project is still in the early planning phase. Securing funding, finishing construction and everything in between will take time. Hunger Skateparks, an Indiana-based company, is the likely choice for the building and designing process.

For funding, Miller and Graves plan to request money from arts councils and community funding entities.

According to Flickner, the town is willing to pay the rest.

Inevitably, some people remain in opposition. Some think funds for the skate park should not come out of their pockets as taxpayers, but they don’t understand the fund-raising process and the community building that’s possible, Flickner said.

Others are skeptical whether there could be enough interest in a skate park, or at least they were until the pop-up event and fair parade.

“Some of the people that I know are against it were actually standing on the sidewalk watching them, and they had a smile on their face,” Flickner said.

Miller and Graves could not have been more pleased with the event.

“It started pouring down rain,” Graves said. “All the skaters didn’t stop; everybody just skated in the rain and had a great time.”

Miller and Graves were able to pull it off with the help of Louisville RIOT skate-park owner Floyd Freels, who supplied much of the wood for their construction efforts, and other members of the local skating community. Miller and Graves are thrilled that so many people are showing support for the project.

“We’ve been pushing for this for years and years and years to no avail upon until now,” Graves said, “and finally we’re getting the momentum we’ve always wanted.”

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