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Skate park is 'catching air'

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By The Staff

By Brent Schanding

Landmark News Service

A group of skateboarders, blamed for vandalizing a New Castle bank, will band together to construct a skate park.

They will form a committee to fundraise, plan, design and construct what could be an 8,000 square-foot-facility in New Castle or outlying areas. It could feature ramps, rails and half-pipes, they hope, and accomodate skateboarders, inline skaters and bikers of all skills.

New Castle Mayor Judy Diederich and commissioners threw support behind the plan Monday, calling it a bold idea that will require cooperation from everyone.

"If you're willing to do that, we're willing to work with you," Diederich told a group of youth, who showed up to the council meeting carrying skateboards. "It's got to be professionally built. It's not a do-it-yourself project."

New Castle had been eyeing a ban on boarders, after some complained the city was turning into a circus-like arena for stunt artists and daredevils. A person was reportedly injured after they slipped on stairs at a downtown business. Wax, used commonly in skateboard stunts, had been applied to the steps, creating a slick surface.

"I was afraid they'd get hurt and damage property," Garry Polston, pastor of New Castle United Methodist Church said.

But Polston led a charge Monday to help the youth find a safer place to skate.

"I believe it can be done and should be done," he told the council.

The commission indicated they agreed, too, and launched an informal query into the liability issues of the skatepark's construction. The commission will work with the youth to scout a possible site for the park.

The cities of La Grange and Carrollton, each operate skate parks. Teen skaters in Shelbyville have raised more than $100,000 to build a skate park there.

While parents are forced to drive their kids to out-of-town parks, many say they'd rather have one here.

"Kids in this town are getting into trouble because there's nothing to do. The last thing I want to do is drive them somewhere to skate," said Margaret Solmonson, whose skater son, Charles, is also advocating for a local park.

Theres no place to skate," he said. "[The park] helped in La Grange and Carrollton and I think it will help out here, too."

Pam Jump, who drives her son to the La Grange's skate park is also backing a local project. In an open letter to the Local the Smithfield woman lobbied against New Castle plans to ban skateboarding.

"If the city council is looking for ways to end this solution then take that energy and volunteer some of their time to build an area for the children to enjoy," she wrote.

Mayors across the county have been plagued with skateboard problems, according to Diederich.

"I think this is maybe an issue whose time has arrived," she said."I think this also needs to be a county issue."

Diederich is calling for broad-based support from other community leaders to help the kids.

E-mail us about this article at editor@hclocal.com.