Group forms to bring a skate park to town

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Aubrey Taylor practices his grind Monday afternoon.

SIKESTON -- Monday afternoon, Aubrey Taylor, 12, and his friends rode their skateboards at his house. Later, his mom took the group to the New Madrid Skate Park.

"There is nowhere in Sikeston for them to skate, so we travel to other towns," Cindy Taylor said.

Along with other parents and residents, Taylor has formed the Sikeston Skate Committee. Open to all, its first meeting is tonight.

Board members and a junior skate committee will be elected at the meeting. They will discuss fundraisers to pay for the park and other details.

A skate park is important for several parties.

"We don't have anywhere else to skate because we always get kicked off," said Jason Brown, 13.

Drew Juden, Sikeston Department of Public Safety Director, said the Department receives several calls related to trespassing. "Certainly it's an issue for property owners in the community," he said. "I think (a skate park) is a good idea, but I don't know what the short-term answer is."

Juden said officers have also responded to some accidents of skate boarders falling and being injured, often without safety gear. "I'm hoping that if there is a skate park, that will be one of the requirements -- that they wear the appropriate safety gear."

Earlier this year, Taylor and others approached the City Council about constructing a skate park. It was not included in the list of projects, but the council listened. "They indicated they were certainly supportive of this group's efforts to go out and see what they could do," said Doug Friend, city manager. "They just want to see if there is indeed a desire out there to move forward."

Jiggs Moore, parks and recreation director, said a skate park has been included in the park board's five-year plan for a number of years. Two years ago, it was moved to the top of the list as a priority item.

"Unfortunately there wasn't enough money to fund it," he said.

However, it remains in the five year plan for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1, 2009.

"But again, that's going to be driven by the availability of the funding," Moore said. "It's something that could be moved up to the next fiscal year if the funding became available."

That's something Taylor would like to see. She is rallying for the park for several reasons.

Aubrey hopes to become a pro skater, and needs a place to practice. The city could also be losing out on revenue from those who travel to nearby skate parks, she said.

"Skateboard kids come in here all the time and all they talk about is a skate park," said Evelyn Comstock of Comstock Cycle. "It's for their safety and everyone else's."

The committee has begun to raise funds for the park through bake sales and bagging groceries. On July 23, the group will serve at Pizza Inn.

The park board has discussed two possible locations for the skate park: the Sports Complex, because that is where the majority of youth programs are; and Central Park, located near the intersection of Virginia Street and South Prairie, because the streets aren't as busy. But there are no real plans yet.

"We want to get the skate park committee and some of the skaters themselves in deciding what kind of features the skate park will have and we definitely want their input on where it's going to be located," Moore said.

Taylor said she prefers Central Park. "It's more centrally located," she said. She also noted there is less traffic in that area, so it would be less dangerous.

A skate park in Central Park would be nearer to the police station, too. "There will be more of a chance that the police are going to drive by," she said.

A common concern is that the skate park will encourage drug use. "There are drugs anywhere you go," Taylor said.

That would just become a policing effort for DPS. "Any time you have a hangout, you always have that possibility of drugs or alcohol or something else," Juden said.

There may be hurdles to jump through, but that won't deter Taylor. "We're committed and I'm determined and I'm not going to quit," she said. "We're going to have a skate park."

The Sikeston Skate Committee will meet for the first time at 7 o'clock tonight at Comstock Cycle, 816 South Main. Meetings are set for the second Tuesday of each month. For more, call Comstock Cycle, 471-3543, or Cindy Taylor, 380-4189 or 471-0691.

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