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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

New committee, new life for skatepark?

Friday, August 3, 2012

A local volunteer plans to finally achieve a skatepark facility for Storm Lake, shown here in a Dec. 2010 plan created by a California company specializing in such developments, Spohn Ranch.
It's been nearly eight years since Storm Lake began discussions of building a skatepark for its young people, and it's time for the community to finally take ownership of the project and see it done.

So says Dan Berglund, local banker and youth recreation proponent, who wants to assemble a committee to take on the long-stalled project.

"I just don't want to see it be forgotten," he told the Pilot-Tribune. "In a city like ours, in this day and age, a place to skate is just as much recreation as baseball fields and basketball courts are."

Discussions of such a project began in about 2004, and were included in the original AWAYSIS lakefront renovation plan, but the skatepark was trimmed when other elements of the plan proved more expensive than expected. In 2007, the issue came to life again as a group of teenagers petitioned the city council for a park. The city council agreed to start a committee including some of the young people, and a California company that has designed some of the top skateparks in the country was employed to draw up the plan, but the project never advanced any further.

There's no blame to be placed; the timing simply wasn't right, Berglund suggests.

He proposes to pick up the park plan basically as it was drawn by the consultant, and to retain the proposed site, in Seneca Park directly behind the police station. "The park they designed is a good one," he said. The plan was a streetscape-type facility, the style of skating that most local enthusiasts seemed to prefer.

"The way I see it, the next step is to organize a group that has a personal interest in the sport and seeing this project put together, so it can be a community effort and not just a City project," Berglund says.

Youth and parents will both be welcomed to take leadership roles - "Whoever is ready to put in the time and effort to see this get done," he adds.

He has touched base with a few city leaders. "They seem to be okay with this," he said.

The City has basically pledged a third of the cost, the new committee would realistically need to raise a third, and the other third would probably have to come from grants or a major donation, Berglund speculates.

When the plan was drawn up by Spohn Ranch Inc. in December 2010, cost was estimated at $150,000. Labor and material prices have increased somewhat since then.

"It's not a huge amount as projects go, and we already have a plan in our hands. Once we get organized and energized, it's really just a matter of fundraising now."

He has some ideas on how to gain sponsor cash.

"Let's think big. We could paint the entire park in camouflage if we could get the Army or National Guard on board as a sponsor. What if we targeted the anti-smoking campaign or the DARE campaign? Or we look to energy drink companies and other youth-minded products that sponsor events like the X-Games?"

"A pancake breakfast isn't going to do it. We're going to need a large person or a company at some point to help us," Berglund said.

Storm Lake had originally hoped to apply for a Tony Hawk Foundation grant to start up its park, but missed the application deadline for the program headed by the skating legend, and then the project lost momentum and committee meetings fizzled. Still, a skatepark has remained a goal in the city's long-term planning.

The park would be located on public land, and the City would have the ultimate say in naming rights and rules.

Hoping to get the young people of Storm Lake excited and involved, Berglund says it is the ideal time to get organized as school begins this fall.

"I think we need to be very aggressive - make a goal to raise the money by the first of the year, and break ground in the spring," he says.

Anyone who would like to assist on a committee may contact him at 299-0306. He says he does not plan to come to the city council until the group has a formal plan on how it will raise the money.

"We had this initially in 2004, and here we are in 2012. It's time to really take this on," he says. "I know there has to be a way to get it done."

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