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Three designs discussed for skate park

An assortment of skateboarders, city officials and downtown business owners gathered at the District 4 Public Health office on Thursday evening to discuss the design of the skate park that will be located on Bull Street.

Both the city and skate park designers have relied heavily on community feedback while planning the new addition to the southern side of downtown LaGrange. The three plans presented for community review at the meeting were the result of a series of meetings detailing what features would best serve the community. One of the city’s primary goals for the skate park is to provide a safe, designated space for skateboarders, BMX bike riders, inline skaters and scooter riders to develop their skills and enjoy the community.

“We started this process — it has been over a year ago now — of trying to reach out to the local skateboarding community to find out what kind of skate park would be suitable for LaGrange,” City Planner Leigh Threadgill said. “We had to go through some site selection, and that took some time, and we finally landed on a site that is right across the street (from the District 4 Public Health building).”

The skate park will be built on a three-fourths of an acre, and it will have a landscaping buffer between the park itself and the road. The buffer will be designed to match the landscaping of nearby businesses and design elements of the park — like red concrete to match the brick used throughout downtown — were included in all of the designs that were considered for the park.

“There is a lot of room that we can work with to create a good footprint of skate-able area and a lot of room for a buffer around the edges,” former professional skateboarder and current skate park designer Kanten Russell said. “All the concepts were developed around 15 or 16,000 square feet, but like I said, the shapes may vary. The concept that we have with a transition bowl in it is a little bit smaller than the ones that have more flat work and are a little more spread out.”

The sizes of the three skate parks or plaza designs considered at the meeting varied in part due to the cost of installing certain features like bowls, inclines and the basic cost of cement for the projects. Planters with trees or greenery were included in all of the designs in order to create longer areas that skaters can use while still maintaining the “flow” of the park, and both skaters and non-skaters were excited about the feature’s potential to make the part feel like part of the community.

“I love the planters,” skateboarder Nick Mayfield said. “I think they introduce more of a natural feel, and they don’t make things seem so out of place. So, if there is any way to incorporate those two (designs), I think that is beautiful.”

Designers have worked to balance the cost of requested features by providing a park that will serve both beginner skateboarders and their more advanced counterparts while sticking to the project budget set by the city. Ideally, the final project will be able to accommodate skate workshops and events in addition to its role as a recreational outlet.

“We may have some of the younger kids come out to skate, and we want them to feel comfortable in this area,” City Manager Meg Kelsey said.

The skate park will incorporate aspects of the two most popular designs that were presented, and according to Russell, when it is completed roughly 40 to 50 skaters will be able to skate in the park at a time. 

According to Threadgill, the part of the Thread trail that runs through the skate park property will be built at the same time as the park, and LaGrange City Council Member Nick Woodson requested that the design keep the possibility of future expansion in mind. Russell stated during the meeting that he believes the final plan will be complete within a month and the new skate park may be built and ready for use by Summer 2018.

The City of LaGrange has expressed hopes that at least part of the skate park will be funded through a grant from the Tony Hawk foundation, but the deadline for the next round of grants will not be until Jan. 10, with winners announced in February 2018.