Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Poolesville Parks Board recommends skate park

Commissioners will vote next

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After more than two years of debate, Poolesville’s Parks Board has recommended building a skate park in town, but the idea must still be approved by the town’s Commissioners Board before the project can commence.

If approved, the park would be the first recreational facility built by the town besides its more traditional parks, according to Town Manager Wade Yost. The Western County Outdoor Pool on Fisher Avenue was built by the county in the early 1990s, he said.

The seven-member advisory board voted 4-0 in favor of a skate park, and the decision was greeted with a loud round of applause from the roughly 60 adults and youths who attended the May 7 meeting to register their support. Chairman George Deyo, Vice Chairman Doug McKenney and board member Kurt Behrend abstained.

‘‘We just had a huge crowd,” McKenney said after the room had mostly cleared and the board was hammering out the details of its recommendation. ‘‘Clearly, there are people who want this.”

The board recommended a 6,600-square-foot above-ground park with fixtures such as ramps and rails for skateboarders and in-line skaters secured by fencing, with the option of adding on if necessary. It also recommended the park be built on a 3.77-acre tract of land on Wootton Avenue behind Selby’s Market, a site the town plans to use for recreation, though it has not yet been determined what the specific use will be. The property will likely need a master plan before any decisions are made, board members said. The town’s commissioners will likely discuss creating a master plan, a process that could take several months, at their next meeting, Yost said.

Board members have cautioned in the past that the skate park, if built, could take years to design and construct. It could open well after many of the pre-teens and teens who have lobbied for its construction graduate from high school.

The meeting began with a presentation from Peter D’Amelio, a Poolesville resident and chairman of the board of directors at KaBOOM!, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helps communities plan, design, build and raise money for play spaces, including skate parks.

‘‘You can have a city that builds a skate park or you can have a city that becomes a skate park,” D’Amelio told the board. ‘‘... I think Poolesville’s a great city, it’s a city that deserves a skate park, and as a citizen of Poolesville, I’m here to make it happen.”

A safe, high-quality skate park could be built in a day if enough residents or sponsors pitched in, D’Amelio said.

Several issues remain, including whether the board would recommend the park be staffed and how maintenance would be funded. In addition, some members were still wary of the project’s potential price tag. The park is included as a $250,000 line item in the town’s budget, and Poolesville will have allocated $40,000 for the project when the next fiscal year begins July 1.