The success of a temporary skateboard park in Wellesley Village has youths there looking for a permanent facility. Members of a youth council made their pitch to council Tuesday night, citing a host of benefits.
Wellesley’s youth advisory council first approached the township for a skateboard facility four years ago, prompting the creation of a temporary indoor skate park in the community arena. This week, they called for a permanent outdoor multi-use pad that can be used for skateboarding, basketball, ball hockey and tennis.
Representing the youth council were Trevor Olender, Luke Schering and Tyler Vandergaag.
“Youth want to have a chance to be a part of their community and to contribute to a positive future for Wellesley. We as youth understand what is done now will impact future youth,” said Schering.
During their presentation the three teenagers told council a new outdoor multi-use park would incorporate all kinds of sports, including skateboarding, that would create a variety of different activities for youth to participate in during the year.
The goal of a new park would be to keep skateboarders off of dangerous streets and away from business owners, sidewalks, and parking lots, said Vandergaag, adding a dedicated park would do that best, while having it outdoors would give skateboarders access all the time.
Last summer the indoor skate park saw more than 200 visitors ranging in age from five to 30.
Some 20 season passes were sold.
Once hockey season began the park was dismantled and moved outdoors for temporary storage. Skateboarders quickly took advantage of the skate ramps outdoors, using them daily in the warm fall weather. The ramp has since been dismantled and put into storage.
The youth council asked the township to consider building the skate park in an open highly visible location as to discourage troublemakers from gathering there.
“Skateboarders are there to have a good time and not cause trouble,” said Schering. “It is important the park is positioned in the community where there is a lot of foot traffic from pedestrians that can see what is happening at the park.”
The boys admitted that not everyone would be in favour of having a skate park and are willing to work with neighbours to make improvements, including redesigning the ramps with backs to lessen the noise of the skateboard wheels running across the wood.
“We are willing to work with everyone to make it a success and would like to create a set of rules to follow at the skate park, including hours of use and no non-skating activities on the ramps and have a fence built around the pad,” said Olender.
Coun. Herb Neher said the township did not have an issue with a skate park itself, but noted finding a suitable location and the lack of policing are problems.
“I have heard that the young people are going to police themselves. I was young once too and you can’t police yourself when you are 16 years old,” said Neher.
The youth council said location and policing go hand in hand by having it in an open space for everyone to use and see.
Addressing some of the concerns raised, Wellesley resident Bill Fisher said the noise that is amplified by the wooden structure makes finding a suitable location the top consideration.
“The result is a very unpleasant noise that is not only a nuisance when we are out on the deck but can be heard from inside our home even with windows closed,” said Fisher. “Unlike other activities at the park there is no stop or finish to it. It lasts all day long.”
Fisher said skaters show up before 7 a.m. and for several nights people brought their vehicles down to light up the ramp so it can be used well past dark. At times they were playing music, which added to the noise.
“I am not against skateboarding or having a skate park, I just want the location of the park to be reviewed as it disrupts my family,” said Fisher, who recommended building a portable skate park that could be transported by truck to other villages and towns in the area.
Mayor Ross Kelterborn said the current location of the skate ramp was temporary and was intended as a storage place, not to be used by skaters.
Kelterborn suggested the formation of a committee that would represent both sides of the debate to determine a suitable location for the park and to create a list of rules to govern the skate park when it is finally built.
Coun. Jim Olender said it was difficult to find space in the village and the best place for the multi-use pad will be at the sport fields near the arena.