The Lamar City Council weighed the pros and cons of several potential sites for a skateboard park within the city limits and informally agreed that the southern end of Willow Creek Park would be the best location. Other viable sites discussed during the February 29th work session included Escondido Park, Bicentennial Park and the horseshoe pits east of the Enchanted Forest which ran a very close second among council members.
Anna Jones, Senior Vice President of PUMA and J.J. Fulton, design engineer for the economic development firm, discussed options with the council about some basic criteria the skateboard park site would require. It would have to be centrally located for area youth to get to and include some basic infrastructure for utilities. The site should have enough room for parking and future expansion and offer various safety features such as being away from high traffic routes. Escondido Park didn’t survive the cut as it was out of the way from most of the town and had no basic amenities to offer other than rest room facilities and a parking lot. Bicentennial Park had a lot of Main Street visibility, but it was subject to continuous Main Street traffic and had limited parking or growth potential. The Enchanted Forest horseshoe pit seemed like the best option as it had room to offer, was close to the proposed Pocket Park along Main Street, the Chamber offices, Welcome Center and downtown Lamar shopping district.
Willow Creek Park was the ultimate first choice for several reasons. “One,” said Mayor Roger Stagner, “was that it already was a park and came equipped with city regulations regarding parks.” Councilman Kirk Crespin said Willow Creek park was already all-inclusive, “If a family goes there for the skateboarding, you already have open spaces, a child’s playground, picnic tables, the pool is nearby, there are shade trees available as well as parking and it’s a good fit for the area.” There was some concern about the traffic or potential noise or lighting impact on neighboring homes, but there isn’t very much now from other park functions and the lighting will be positioned to focus downward on the skateboard site. The cost of transforming the southern section of the park near the overpass bridge would be less than other locations.
J.J. Fulton said the layout comes with a basic cost of $300,000 for an 11,000 square foot site. “You’d have to factor in the lighting, landscaping and other development needed to turn an area into a skateboard park.” Anna Jones stated there was a level of importance to getting the site selected and the project underway. “Basically, the kids who use this park aren’t going to worry about the number two site over the next several years. All our indications and talks with them is that they’d like to get started now. This project will have visibility in the community, letting them know that progress is being made with these developments.” Stagner agreed with the basic project, adding that it will offer some outdoor recreation for those Lamar kids who aren’t members of sport teams, but still enjoy a different form of recreation.
The city has had a short lived skateboard park which incorporated the concrete area between Parkview Elementary school and the municipal swimming pool. It was a very rudimentary setup, consisting of a couple of metal and plywood ramps at either end of the area and was taken down about six years ago when it was no longer usable. No specific date has been set for work on the proposed park.
By Russ Baldwin
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