Skateboard park discussion rolls on

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2003

Skateboarders in the City of Andalusia will likely have a ideal facility to practice their hobby in the near future.

During the regular meeting of the Andalusia City Council Thursday evening, the council approved pursuing a Land and Conservation Grant which would be used to help modify some of the tennis courts at Johnson Park and turn that area into a park for skateboarders.

Leisure Service Director Dwight Mikel made a presentation of the proposed park during the council's workshop session preceding the regular council meeting.

Mayor Earl Johnson said the project would cost approximately $84,000, and said the city hopes to receive funding to cover half the project.

"(The project) would use about a half-acre of property out at Johnson Park," said Johnson. "Many cities, especially larger cities, are getting into the skateboard park business simply because there are a lot of kids out there who are into skateboarding. What we're trying to do with this project is give them a little more safety as far as a place to play with their skateboards,

and to get them out of the streets and off the sidewalks, to get them off the walls around the Square and off the steps around the courthouse."

He said the property being proposed is currently not being used, with some older tennis courts that are also out of use.

"It would cost much more to rehab those old tennis courts then it would cost to put in the skateboard park," said Johnson. "Plus, it is very unlikely we could get any kind of funding to rehab those tennis courts. In addition, we really have sufficient tennis courts in Andalusia out on the (LBW Junior College) campus and at Andalusia High School, so we really don't have the call for those tennis courts at the present time. This (skateboard park) I feel is worthwhile although there is no guarantee we can get it."

Johnson recommended that the council seek the grant, and this recommendation was approved unanimously.

During the workshop session, Mikel explained that the city applied for the same grant last year but was not funded.

He also said if the park was to come to fruition, very stringent rules would be a part of the package.

"There would be an attendant at the park who would make sure all the rules were being followed, such as wearing headgear," said Mikel. "If people were found not to be abiding by the rules, they would be told to leave the park, and would not be allowed to use the park again for a specific amount of time."

He said there would be music at the park which would be conducive to those most likely to use the park, but the music would also be screened in order to make sure it is appropriate for all ages.

Mikel said the surface of the park would likely be an asphalt-based one with the coating likely to be similar to a tennis court surface.

He said if the park was to open there would likely not be a charge at first, but if there got to be a problem of lack of space or abuse of the facility, the city may have to look at certain fees or other requirements.