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Thumbs up: Facility will be boost to city and area skateboarders

Jan. 15, 2013 @ 10:33 PM

The relationship between the city of Huntington and skateboarders hasn't always been the smoothest. Skateboard enthusiasts, with a dearth of places to enjoy their sport, often ended up in places where they weren't welcome, such as along downtown streets where skateboarding is prohibited.

However, it is warming up now that city officials are taking more steps toward trying to make a long-discussed skate park a reality. In 2011, a new master plan for Harris Riverfront Park called for a skate park as one of its features, and last year the city designated $130,000 in federal funds to go toward development of a facility for skateboarders in that downtown park.

That amount of money isn't nearly enough to build a top-quality skate park, but it was enough for city officials to begin the design process and, once that's completed, use those more specific plans to try to leverage more money for construction. In November, the city solicited design proposals, and many of the top names in skate park design responded. Officials have narrowed the group to three companies and hope to have a designer selected by this spring. That will trigger a series of public meetings to zero in on wanted features and the desired location of the facility within the riverfront park. Officials say having a ready-to-go plan for the skate park can help in acquiring more money for construction.

The commitment so far by the city is encouraging, as is the reception from the skateboarding community. Increased dialogue in the coming months, as plans for the skate park are formed, should only make the bond stronger.

Construction of a skate park not only will be a welcome addition to skateboarders, it can benefit the city, too, by boosting use of Harris Riverfront Park and offering another form of recreational outlet to residents.

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