Jackson's skate park nearing start of bid process

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Jackson's city parks are sloshing wet, but inside city hall, officials and committees are wringing out plans for 2005.

On Wednesday, for example, the Jackson skate park committee will meet to finalize the items that will go out for bid later this month.

The committee, which consists of representatives from the city, the Noon and Evening Optimist clubs and several skateboarders, will iron out the city's requests for concrete and equipment.

If all goes well, the construction of the park will be completed in April or May, park director Shane West Anderson said.

The skateboarders have been involved since last April when two Jackson Optimist Clubs announced they would donate $60,000 for a skate park. However, about 25 skateboarders and parents who attended a board of aldermen study session were less than excited about the plans. The initial complaint about the designs was that the Optimists planned to use steel modular obstacles on an 80-foot-by-50-foot concrete slab instead of building a concrete course.

The skateboarders then became involved with input on a new plan for a park and soon discovered a concrete park wasn't feasible. Over the course of 10 meetings during the summer, the skateboarders modified the plans, selected specific equipment and the location of the obstacles.

Funding concerns

Originally, several skateboarders and parents said they would help the city raise money for better equipment. Anderson said that fund raising has not materialized.

"That doesn't mean there won't be some fund raising," he said, "it just hasn't happened prior to the design."

The city will be getting some outside money, however. Jackson High School's Family Career and Community Leaders of America and Future Farmers of America was awarded a $1,200 grant to do a community service project in 2000 and 2001. The FCCLA and FFA members performed surveys and background information for the demand for a park. The groups have roughly $1,100 left over from the grant and will donate that toward the project.

"That's what it was earmarked for," said Cathy Boyd, the school's FCCLA director.

In other park developments, Anderson said the grass planted at the new soccer complex near Route PP is growing well and things are still on schedule for the opening of the park next fall.

He also said that the city will seek bids for the resurfacing of the upper tennis courts at the city park. He said that project will be completed in April or May.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-66351

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