Construction of new $120,000 Cape skate park could start this winter at Arena Park

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

There has been talk for years, but Cape Girardeau parks officials and organizers say they're closer than they've ever been to launching plans for a new skate park that -- in their best-case scenario -- would cost upward of $120,000 and be built in Arena Park sometime this winter.

But the city and the Cape Girardeau Skate Park Association, a small group of skateboard enthusiasts, are still scrambling to raise money to get the wheels rolling.

"We're taking this summer to hash out all the details," parks division manager Brock Davis said. "But everything depends on the funding. If we can do that, we can probably get it built this winter."

The parks staff is poring over its budget to find the money as well as looking for possible revenue that may be left over from the half-cent parks and storm-water sales tax approved by voters in 2008, a revenue stream that has already paid for more than $20 million in parks projects.

The association is going to kick in some money toward the project as well, said Chris Hutson, a local businessman who acts as a liaison between the association and the city. Ideally, the association would raise $20,000, he said. It already has been awarded a grant for several thousand dollars from the Ronald McDonald House and has several fundraisers in the works. The group also intends to approach several area civic organizations for donations, Hutson said. The city is also hopeful it can find grants to help foot the bill.

"We're shooting for the stars to get the moon," Hutson said. "This town needs a new skate park. The kids need a nice place to go."

The association has already had a Joplin, Mo., company's design plans that call for a skate park four times the size of the city's existing one at Missouri Park, Hutson said. The design works in the existing equipment and adds features such as a street course and larger half-pipes that would attract skaters from across the region.

The existing skate park, Hutson said, is too small and doesn't have enough equipment to keep the interest of more advanced skaters. Missouri Park, along North Fountain Street near the corner of Main Street, has also been the site of vandalism and is often littered with broken glass.

While the city is open to several spots for a new skate park, both Hutson and Davis have their eye on Arena Park because it is centrally located and accessible via the city's hiking and biking trails.

"They could get on their bikes, ride to the skate park and then ride home after," Davis said. "That's my hope, that it would go in at Arena Park."

Both also said they feel like they're close to putting together a plan to take to the city's Parks and Recreation and Advisory Board and then on to the Cape Girardeau City Council for its consideration.

"We're hashing everything out this summer," Davis said. "But we want to be thorough. What we don't want to do is put in another skate park that is too small or too inadequate. We want to do it right."

Advisory board chairman Danny Essner said he's in favor of building a high-quality skate park, though he added that the lack of funding is a concern.

"It's something I am relatively confident is going to happen," he said. "But the quality of it will depend to some degree on what kind of grants are available and how much money is available out of the parks and rec budget. It's on our radar and I'd say it's closer than it's been in the past."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

410 Kiwanis Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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