Skateboard supporters seek site, style

SALEM – People interested in a skateboard park for Salem divided themselves into the Whats and the Wheres and decided to meet again at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 13, at Courtyard Square, at 645 E. State St. in downtown Salem.

Anyone else willing to join their effort is welcome to attend that next meeting as committee members update each other on their research about the nuts and bolts of a skate park (the What) and plausible locations (the Where).

“At the end of the day, it’s yours to succeed or fail,” Councilman Rick Drummond told the group.

Drummond acted as facilitator for a meeting Thursday night in council chambers to gauge interest in a skateboard park and hand over the reins to serious people willing to take point on such a project.

About 15 people attended, including Drummond, Councilman Clyde Brown, and Parks Commission Vice Chairman Terry Hoopes, who said he wasn’t there representing the commission, but to hear what people had to say. Salem residents and downtown building owners Scott and Lisa Cahill, who spoke in favor of a skateboard park during a recent city council Parks Committee meeting, offered the use of their building for the next meeting.

The topic first came up during a council meeting in May when a woman questioned what’s available for kids in the city, asking about a skateboard park. It was discussed further during the Parks Committee meeting, with Parks Director Steve Faber saying a previous skateboard park located in Waterworth Memorial Park was shut down because it became a nuisance. An effort to resurrect a skateboard park several years later failed when a location couldn’t be settled upon.

Drummond opened the meeting by saying the parks commission has no money for a skate park and neither does the city, but if they’re looking for land, the group can ask the city if there’s any available or if something’s needed through a city ordinance, the city can help that way. As to driving the project, he said that’s up to the people who want it.

“It’s going to be the people of Salem who make or not make this skate park a go,” he said.

Much of the discussion centered on how to approach the project, with Drummond suggesting they need to figure out what they want first, including the type of materials or surface and the size, then work on the location to fit what they want, before they start fundraising and finding money sources.

Bill and Lisa Cartwright, who own Salem Fun Factory, previously operated an indoor skate park for two years in Austintown for bikes, rollerblades and skateboards. It was 13,000 square feet, cost $150,000 and they said there was a lot involved with it, noting that they sometimes had days dedicated for just bikes or just rollerblades or skateboards and sometimes all together.

Salem resident Joe Lee said wood can be used and can be replaced or smoothed out, plus ramps can be moved around if necessary, while resident Terri Chipps Hutton suggested concrete because it’s permanent and would need very little maintenance.

She also said maybe piping and other concrete forms used in construction could be utilitized. Lee said wood would be a lot better way to go.

Lisa Cahill said material is a big factor and so is place and both are closely related.

Matt Reed and Brandon Mohr both questioned whether there could be a spot in the parks available, with Hoopes saying he couldn’t speak for the commission or Faber, but personally, his answer was no. Drummond suggested maybe someone in the city who owns property would be willing to donate some.

“I don’t see what the problem is with the park,” Mohr said. “If the city and parks aren’t willing to help, it’s not going to happen.”

He said he’s already looked into funding sources through pro skaters who have foundations and has visited other skate parks including one in the Chippewa/Beaver Falls area of Pennsylvania. Both he and Scott Cahill said they don’t want to put all the time, money and effort into a project that could be taken away down the road, like the previous skateboard park.

Lisa Cahill suggested some city-owned land near the police station and Drummond said he would check into it. When asked what type of skateboard park they wanted, the consensus was to have one for both bikes and skateboards. When they talked about size, they acknowledged that money could be a factor.

“This has an opportunity to be a destination – we don’t want to shortchange it,” Lisa Cahill said.