By Karen Cornelius
The Vermilion Parks and Recreation Board met on Tuesday, November 21, and spent a considerable amount of time discussing plans to possibly build a new skate park on property west of Sailorway Middle School fronting Route 60. Another update will be given at the December 19 Parks Board meeting.
According to the minutes, Parks Board members listened to a status report on the topic of a new skate park from Vermilion resident and skate expert Reed Hettel who volunteered last month to head up a committee. Hettel showed members a sketch of a proposed skate park that was prepared by Team Payne, a business building skate parks for 30 plus years. He also stated he had met with Vermilion Local Schools Superintendent Phil Pempin regarding property on the west lot of the school campus. He said he and Team Payne are reviewing a 30,000 square foot park as well as looking into fundraising. He advised there could be outside structures at the park for people who don’t skateboard, and there was talk of putting a trail around the park. He further showed proposed evergreen trees which are a good natural shade for a cement structure.
Hettel stated that because the proposed park would be in a flood plain he is looking into Ohio Natural Resources grants from the state. He researched other communities who received these types of grants and they are willing to help Vermilion. There is another grant by the Tony Hawk Foundation they can apply for because this foundation supports community development. However, he can’t do any fundraising before they have a plan and a builder. He estimated the cost of the park could be in the neighborhood of $1.5 million. To justify, they would be creating a place for skateboarders and bikers to go and this would be an investment for the community as it maintains itself as well. He thought the location would be ideal and the visibility great. It could also bring in events that would help support surrounding businesses.
Parks supervisor Dana Corogin was enthusiastic as well by this possibility. She also met with superintendent Pempin and stated that they are really excited because not only do they want to create an education campus, but a wellness campus which could be a community center. She stated the schools have over 80 acres and putting in a walking path around the entire park is exciting. She said Pempin sees this as being a positive thing for children and attracting young families to the community. The park would be highly visible and parents and grandparents can park close to the park and watch the youth skating. Parking could be added in front.
Councilman Brian Holmes pointed out that there is some concern football is played in the area they are discussing on campus. Holmes asked if they have a backup plan for another location. Hettel and Corogin said they are aware and are discussing this because they do not want to push anybody out. Corogin thought the skate park could be moved over and the area could still accommodate the football program. Hettel said they have also looked at Showse Park and West Breeze, but the residential area is a concern. They looked at the present location off Douglas on Devon Drive as well, but need a plot map of the area. The current park is about 4,000 square feet and the surface is rough and not stable. Hettel said Cleveland’s park is 9,000 square feet, but they would like 15,000 to 20,000 feet. There is a park in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is 23,000 square feet and this could be comparable.
Parks chairman Elizabeth Wakefield asked what the time frame is on building a park. Hettel responded realistically they are looking at four to five years. But, it could be done sooner with a lot of community support through fundraising. Board member Dennis Brudney said he has talked to some youth and the word is out. Hettel added there are a lot of people stoked about this proposed park and he has been getting some great feedback. He said the liability insurance coverage and maintenance contract is something they will need to figure out prior to fundraising.
Chairman Wakefield asked Hettel to come back to the December meeting to give another update. Hettel said he would come back and also bring suggestions on how to keep the current park safe.