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Skaters want park open all year

Not all skateboarders want to stash their wheels during the winter in favor of snowboards — some would prefer to skateboard in Park City even after it starts snowing.

A group of skateboarders and in-line skaters wants City Hall to consider building some sort of shelter above the skateboard park in City Park that would allow them to skate all year. The skateboard park now closes during the winter.

An online petition by midday Monday had collected 580 signatures from people who want the skate park domed in some fashion. City Hall is aware of the online petition, and officials recently discussed possibilities at the skateboard park.

Ken Fisher, who manages recreation programs for the local government, says members of the Park City Council want staffers and the city’s Recreation Advisory Board, a panel with some influence in such topics, to investigate options for covering the skateboard park.

Fisher says the City Council request is a "first step," but a decision would not be made for some time. He says it is possible to cover the skateboard park, but doing so would be expensive. He has not yet completed a cost estimate but says "it wouldn’t be cheap."

"I don’t know if I can handicap it at this point," Fisher says about the prospects of something being built. "I don’t know what it will cost."

Fisher says it is likely the research will center on building a pavilion to shield the skateboard park from the snow. He says a bubble like the one put up each winter to cover three tennis courts at the Racquet Club would not be practical at the skateboard park because it would be too costly and mechanically challenging.

The skateboard park debuted in 2001 and was expanded a few years ago. Fisher says it is one of the "best used" recreational facilities used during the summer. The park was built after years of discussions, including research into several locations. He says a pavilion like the one being discussed was not considered when the park was designed.

The online petition mentions that skaters must stop each fall, which stunts their progress and keeps them from training for snowboarding and skiing, that covering the skate park would allow kids more exercise in the winter and that a covered skateboard park would generate publicity for Park City.

"Make people like me and all skaters feel like this town does care about the future for us skaters," the petition says, calling the idea a "win win opportunity for us people so lets do this for the kids."

Some of the online comments include:

"The dome would keep people from being stuck at home with nothing to do, and some people can’t afford to snowboard or ski."

"I come to Park City every winter to enjoy the best snow in the world! If you domed the skate park, I could also enjoy doing some rock n rolls in the evening after riding the mountain all day! It would also be GREAT for all of the local PC youth as they would have another great place to train as it very important to be able to crossover to skate from snow. Future world champs are going to be from PC and the dome on the park will only help them to become such."

"This would be another great asset for Park City to be recognized as one of the best sport orientated city’s. Just imagine a town that can produce great Winter Olympic atheletes as well as great Summer Olympic athletes. What a dominate city in the sports world!"

"Thanks for taking the time to post the petition. The skatepark is an integral part of my life in Park City, as important as riding the chairlifts in the winter. I have a 3 1/2 year old that is looking forward to skating with his dad, and to do so year round would be invaluable. This will pay off!"

Fisher says he expects to calculate cost estimates by the spring, as City Hall is starting its annual budget talks. A pavilion or other cover for the skateboard park could be offered as an option when staffers present the budget to the City Council, he says.

He cautions, though, the effects of the economic downturn could stretch until the budget talks.

"If the city’s struggling financially, it’s going to be a long shot," Fisher says.


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