Archive for Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Skating addition sails to approval

City OKs $50,000 for building features at Centennial course

August 15, 2006


Skyler Farley, 16, Lawrence, above, slides along the railing of the halfpipe feature last week at the Lawrence skate park in Centennial Park. The city on Tuesday approved $50,000 to add new skating features at the park.

Skyler Farley, 16, Lawrence, above, slides along the railing of the halfpipe feature last week at the Lawrence skate park in Centennial Park. The city on Tuesday approved $50,000 to add new skating features at the park.

Apparently, skateboarders in Lawrence can grind the same rails only so long.

After years of prodding and fundraising from a small but dedicated group of Lawrence skateboarders, the city finally approved Tuesday funding for additions to the skateboard course at Centennial Park.

"These kids have been riding the same stuff their whole lives," Justin Shiney said. "It's time to switch it up a little."

In the just-approved city budget, the Parks and Recreation Department will get $50,000 to add on to the skate park, giving local skateboarders, rollerbladers and some risk-taking BMX bike riders new fodder for their scabbed elbows and momentary glory.

But it wasn't without years' worth of work for Shiney and a group of four or five other local skaters.

To hear Shiney tell it, it's a story of lost hope and sudden life for the project.

About three years ago, Shiney and others began chatting about local skate parks - what they had and what they needed - while sitting around the old Let It Ride shop on the corner of Seventh and New Hampshire streets.

Lawrence skater Addison Toelkes, 14, goes airborne on one of the ramps at the park, southeast of Sixth Street and Rockledge Road.

Lawrence skater Addison Toelkes, 14, goes airborne on one of the ramps at the park, southeast of Sixth Street and Rockledge Road.

"It was way back before any of the Kansas City parks had a bowl," Shiney said.

Soon, the group began attending City Commission meetings to ask leaders for funding.

"They were all very supportive," Shiney said of the commission. But still, the skaters saw no real action from those with the power to help fund an addition, likely a bowl - a kind of smoothed-out, skater-friendly replica of the drained swimming pools that helped give birth to skateboarding decades ago.

The group even held benefits for the project, including a concert and an art show. In all, the group raised about $2,500, Shiney said, money that still sits in a bank account ready to be put toward "just whatever it needs to go to."

Enthusiasm fades

But unlike the city-skateboarder collaboration that successfully built the Centennial Park course back in 1998, the effort slowed to a crawl, Shiney said.

Whether it was because of the skaters' lack of organization or the money the city poured into the prefabricated ramps at Deerfield School, city staff said no to funding back in 2004, and the skateboarders stopped asking soon after.

Meanwhile, bigger and better skate parks kept popping up in Kansas City and Topeka, luring local skaters and touring professionals away from the area.

Former Lawrence skate park builder Joel Smith said at the time that he was frustrated with the process.

"When they put that stuff at Deerfield Park, we went and looked at it and I called back and complained," Smith said. "In the skateboard culture, we consider that stuff garbage. It's just companies ripping off Parks and Rec departments all over the country."

For the past year or so - since a big push in 2004 - everyone pretty much stopped trying.

New project

But City Commissioner Boog Highberger said he had kept the project in mind, even hoping to fund a new bowl last year.

"It's something that's had broad support," Highberger said of the project. "But there were too many projects, not enough money."

But this year, when it began to look like the city could afford the project, Highberger called Shiney and told him the news.

Shiney, taken aback, was all for it.

"I guess we better start doing something again," he said about his thoughts at the time.

That was earlier this summer. Now, with the budget just a few steps away from finalization, Shiney said he's looking forward to working with the city to put the project in place.

Fred DeVictor, Lawrence Parks and Recreation director, said the money - part of a larger bond project to improve parks all around Lawrence - was still a ways away.

As for what will actually be built - likely a bowl - the city still has to discuss the project and take any proposals before city commissioners, DeVictor said.

"We'd have to do some homework and learn more about it," he said.

That process will likely include working again with Shiney and other local skaters to get a feel for what would work best at the park, DeVictor said.

For Shiney, that choice is easy. A bowl - something that will give local skaters and rollerbladers something new to master.

Design for bowl

Shiney has been talking with builders from St. Louis, tossing around ideas for what the project should look like.

Multiple depths, he said. Maybe a clover-leaf shape. Lots of places to drop in from, enough room to get some good speed going.

"It would be an unbelievable level of knowledge for kids around here," Shiney said. In a Mark Twain-ish moment, he continued: "It's the difference between bumper cars and a roller coaster."

Smith agreed, saying it would pump new life into the nearly 10-year-old park.

"It's super exciting for me," he said. "If there was a new bowl there, I'd be there every day again."

Out at the park last week, 15-year-old Shilo Thompson rolled from the stair set near the park's entrance to the mini-pipe and back, trying trick after trick along the way.

Thompson imagined that a bowl in the park would bring more skaters there from all over the area - and would give locals a much different experience.

"With a bowl, you don't really have to get out, you just get speed around the circle," Thompson explained. "It would be way better."


prioress 11 years, 5 months ago

Good move; the kids need somewhere to practice. This should keep them safer and reduce the odds they will skate on the sidewalks and the streets.

Tammy Copp-Barta 11 years, 5 months ago

OK .. I'm confused. They took all the cool old playground stuff away because of safety and lawsuits, but they are okaying more money to add to the skatepark which has a huge potential for someone to get hurt.

Not that I have anything agains the skatepark. Kids DO need an outlet and I'm glad they can go there instead of on the streets, sidewalks and steps/railings of businesses.

Just seems like the city is talking out of both sides of their mouth. hhhmmmmm

mztrendy 11 years, 5 months ago

I wish Lawrence still had a skating rink!

Bud Stagg 11 years, 5 months ago

So we can spend $50,000 on a skate park, which I won't deny those kids. However our golf course is sitting down there only a few years old, wasting away. It is weed infested and rotting because we don't have full time staff to keep it up. If you are going to do something, do it right or don't do it at all. $50k would do wonders down there.

prioress 11 years, 5 months ago

"Perhaps there isn't anyone bugging the city about it, over and over for years, like the skateboard kids." ++++++++ Congratulations to the "kids." This is called good politics and (gasp!) lobbying/advocacy for a cause.

John Spencer 11 years, 5 months ago

Turn the Golf course into a roundabout, that should attract more drivers....... LOL

kmat 11 years, 5 months ago

This really ticks me off when they're going to raise property taxes and are trying to raise the sales tax, but lets spend $50,000 on a skateboard park.

Everyone's talking about how these kids need a place to go and something to do. How did any of us ever make it in the old days? I remember being creative and playing, not being catered to by the city. If kids want a fancy skate park, then they need to charge fees to use it so that the tax payers aren't paying for skater punks to have a cool place to try to break their bones.

I don't have kids, but I still am paying for their public education. I shouldn't have to pay for their entertainment also. Parents need to take care of that.

Kontum1972 11 years, 5 months ago

if this crap keeps up overseas and we do iran you wont need a golf course or a skateboard park...just a big cemetary ...the drums are beating in DC....go "W"...and company!

acg 11 years, 5 months ago

Wow, just when I thought people couldn't get any dumber, out pops Kontum and smacks one right outta the park!! Way to go dude!

YourItalianPrincess 11 years, 5 months ago

I'm happy for the kids that go there to skate. I take my youngest there to practice and he gets better at skating.

One thing we for sure need in Lawrence ( yes, I have said this until I'm blue in the face ) is a family fun center. We need a skating rink ( I know we had one ) and a mini golf ( I know we had one of these too ) and an arcade since the one at the bowling alley is gone now. We have lost yet another place for our kids to go and have fun to a bar for 21 and over.

I drove my son to a bday party this past weekend in KC. They went to Skate World. Very nice, clean and friendly place and the kids had a blast. I spent a pretty penny, but not in Lawrence. Why are we having to take our kids out of Lawrence to have some fun. Putting money into Lawrence is better then spending it elsewhere. Bringing in more jobs to high school kids is always good too. Building a family fun center with aa skating rink, an arcade, a mini golf would be perfect for Lawrence.

Yes, some of you will say.........Parks and Rec have all sorts of things to do. I'm talking other types of fun which does not include the things that Parks and Rec has to offer.

Does anyone feel the same way I do in here? Just wondering what your thoughts are.

Didn't the city commission once complain about kids hanging out on Mass St on the weekends? Maybe they should do something about it and give our kids something to do. I know we are a college town ( city ) but we need to think about our kids too. Lawrence wants families to move here, buy homes and raise their kids here.

Lawrence needs a family fun center for families to enjoy as much as the kids would enjoy one.

fletch 11 years, 5 months ago

Good job to the organizers of this project. Having a good skatepark provides kids with a good chnce to go outside, get exercise, learn to share, and socialize. Areas like this keep them away from skating in pedestrian or car crowded areas, or from destroying property not designed for the wear and tear.

Good project, bravo.

shortstack 11 years, 5 months ago

man, i went to the surrounding area where the gazebo is, i took my dog. um, those little bitch skateboard kids are obnoxious, rude, and have a wayyy over inflated sense of self importance.

i think the money could be spent on something else, i mean really. maybe those "adults" that are trying to help them out could think of something better than an ART SHOW and a concert.

leave it for the supporters of those punk bastards to raise money for additions to that park, or the skaters themselves. there's a lot more to do than sit on your skateboards and bitch that everyone hates you. bravo owners of the skate shops, way to bolster creativity..retards

kmat 11 years, 5 months ago

Amen shortstack.

Last week everyone was going on and on about how this is a college town and no one should complain about the traffic, noise, etc... from all the college kids returning. Now people are on this post talking about how we need to make Lawrence a family friendly suburb of KC. Which is it folks? Do you want a college town or a JOCO style suburb catering to the young kids and families?

For those of you going on and on about how there's nothing for kids to do in this town, ever heard of a good book? When was the last time you took your kids to the library? Encourage creativity. Why do kids have to have a place to go (arcades, etc...)? No wonder we have a bunch of slacker, punk kids that think everything should be given to them and have no grasp of reality. How the heck did we ever grow up with the boring lives we had 30-40 years ago? No video games, no cable tv, no skate parks. We created fun things to do. Kids today have no grasp of this.

kmat 11 years, 5 months ago

Funny post, swbsow. I didn't mean to sound THAT old.

I am a retired teacher and saw so many kids get passed each year that could barely read. Even many that are near their grade level in reading don't have a good grasp of what they just read. We cater to kids too much and have the attitude that everything must be fun for kids today. I'd like to see our tax dollars spent to educate our children, not amuse them. If parents want their kids to be amused and out of their hair, then they can pay out of their pockets everytime their kids want to go to the skate park. I shouldn't have to pay for this.

YourItalianPrincess 11 years, 5 months ago

We go to the library every weekend. I love to read and so does my son. You can complain all you want about it, but its true.........there is nothing here for kids to do.

Yes, this is a college city and there are more bars then anything besides a bank of course here in Lawrence. Just because we have KU here doesn't mean there can't be a place where families can go to have some fun together.

I see nothing wrong with a family fun center going up somewhere here in Lawrence. It will bring jobs in, give students jobs, and be a great place to have fun.

shortstack 11 years, 5 months ago

in case anybody didn't notice, lawrence is the most selfish dollar centric town i've ever lived in. for real, there are a lot of bars here because they make money, skate parks, grassy areas and other no cost amusements are not going to benefit the big dudes so why have them?

this town blows as far as screwed up priorities. so there's nothing for the kids to do; so what, i played outside in my neighborhood and didn't have video games and all that other crap. hows about a nice game of capture the flag you uncreative breeders..

crayjah3 11 years, 5 months ago

It would be beneficial to have a larger plaza type recreation area. Seating and landscaping, sculpture and great curbs, banks, etc. Spend $250,000 on it. Pools galore!

...and put some bike lanes in this town while 'yer at it.


jd61883 11 years, 5 months ago lump video games, tv, and skateboarding together? No skateboarding is totally different. I'm sure your in favor of keeping baseball, soccer, and football fields maintained yet you complain about a skate park addition. Not only is skating a great form of exercise, but it's also a great stress reliever. Have you ever seen a fat kid who could skate really well??? I sure haven't. You say your a retired teacher, i'm guessing there's a reason you're retired because if you were really in favor of improving the life and well being of our youth then you would be in favor of the skate park addition. As a new elementary teacher I can say I am concerned with not only my students' education but also their physical health. I am in favor of adding on to the skatepark in Lawrence. Bring on the skaters! for the golf we want to be another Johnson County. Seems like West Lawrence is turning into Johnson County West. The real Lawrencians live east of Iowa!

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