HUDSON — City Council will soon vote on whether it will earmark more money to expand the city’s skate park by about 2,500 square feet as part of a planned renovation of the entire site.
The city’s park board on July 15 voted 3-1 to recommend that Council approve the expanded skate park at Veterans Way Park with an overall price tag of $375,000. Park Board member Frank Griffiths voted against the recommendation. Park Board members Keith Smith, Douglas Colafella, and Linda O’Neil were not present.
Council previously authorized spending $250,000 for the renovation. Another $125,000 — $75,000 from the parks department budget and a $50,000 donation from Vans Shoe Co. — is needed to expand the park from 7,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet. Council is expected to have a second reading on approving the additional $75,000 for the larger park on July 30.
The proposed expansion came about after skateboarders visited Council and the Park Board several months ago to suggest the city either expand the park or remove some equipment to create more space. Council asked city staff and Park Board members to meet with the skateboarders and discuss ideas with them.
John Spivak, the city’s assistant public works superintendent, said officials took the feedback to the design team -Grindline, which was hired by the city to design the park — and "their recommendation was to enlarge [the skate park] 2,500 square feet more with an additional cost of $125,000."
The recommendation to expand the site "was made to ensure a higher-functioning park and for safety purposes," said Spivak, who added the current equipment was designed to last 10 to 20 years. The equipment has been in place for 15 years.
"It’s a safety hazard right now that we need to address one way or the other," said Spivak.
Park Board member Tom King on July 15 said he was "a little bit disappointed that it was reported that Park Board had [previously] made a recommendation for the larger skateboard park." He noted Assistant Public Works Director Trent Wash "apologized. He took our [previous] discussion as kind of [a] consensus that we were in favor of the enlarged skate board park."
Park Board Chairman Keith Smith told Council in June that if the renovation does not happen, the park would have to be closed next year due to safety concerns.
King on July 15 said Smith’s "well thought-out, emotional" presentation to Council "changed my mind about doing it right the first time and spending the additional $75,000."
Griffiths said he did not favor spending more money on the 2,500-square-foot expansion.
While noting he was "in favor of fixing [the park]," Griffiths said, "I haven’t heard or seen the alternative recommendation for the costs associated that we had within our budget and I don’t believe I’ve heard why we have to spend the additional dollars in any sort of definitive fashion."
Griffiths said he would like to review an updated design within the originally proposed 7,500-square-foot footprint and "see where that gets us."
Board member Sean McGurr said, "I don’t mind going bigger ... I do think that having a big, quality skate park and really blow people’s expectations away would be great."
McGurr said he was comfortable either voting on a formal recommendation or on delaying the vote to garner more information.
Board member Brett Shriver said it felt was "appropriate" for the Park Board to vote on a recommendation, particularly because "City Council is ready to take this up and vote on it."
"I think if we were going to provide feedback to them in one direction or the other, it’s pretty important that we ... as the Park Board take a vote to find out what the consensus is," said Shriver.
Shriver said the initial proposal to spend $250,000 on a 7,500-square-foot skate park would remove "a couple of the features." Shriver said the skateboarders said the features that were planned "wouldn’t fit, so we’d have to remove features in order to keep it the same size."
Shriver added he supported expanding the size of the park.
Griffiths noted a design for the park was created based on the $250,000 budget. He said the Park Board then were told by skateboarders that "the flow and design of the [$250,000 proposal] wasn’t what the stakeholders thought was the best flow and design."
Griffiths added he felt the project could’ve been designed differently to have the park fit the current footprint.
"[For] the existing footprint design that we got, the feedback from skaters said, ‘hey, this doesn’t work’ ... we should’ve adjusted ... and said what would [work] within this footprint, not necessarily say, ‘Let’s spend more and make it bigger,’" said Griffiths.
King said while he agreed with Griffiths’ concerns, he did not want to hold up the process any longer. King said he felt the city "should do more for its youth" in terms of providing recreational facilities.
Spivak clarified that the smaller design "wasn’t designed appropriately for the inexperienced and experienced [skaters]. There wasn’t enough room for both of them to actually skate in that small of an area."
Removing some features would not address the issue of inexperienced and experienced skaters using the park, according to Spivak.
The park footprint was increased so "it can be utilized by both [types of skaters] for safety and also [would be] more of interest for [skaters] who are going to use it," added Spivak.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.