Thursday, January 19, 2012

SkateTown USA

Where is the skate park?  At present nowhere and that is causing some tempers to flare a bit.  Last night Wesley Terry came before Borough Council in hopes that it would rubber stamp the location that the steering committee for the park decided would be the best spot.  However, I don't think they were prepared for the objections that came with those hopes.  The proposed site would be in Kerr Park at the south end of the parking lot that also services the All Abilities Playground and the pavilions that are rented out for activities in the spring and summer.  DSP has already reduced the size of the footprint of the park due to the lack of funds at the present time.  Mr. Terry said that DSP has about $26,000 in funds and hopes to raise $10-15,000 more once the smaller version is built for upkeep and possible expansion.

I can certainly understand the need to "scale it back a bit" because fundraising for this sort of project is difficult, but the plans for what was to be placed in the park as obstacles and ramps was to my eye less than impressive.  Also the fact that the park would take up at least 20-30 parking spaces in a town that has very little parking to begin with was a serious sticking point for Councilman Gazzerro.  The parking lot in question during the winter months looks a bit desolate, but when the weather begins to clear up and it is not so cold, the parking lot becomes like the mall at circle hoping someone will leave so your kids can go play or you can have your activity in the pavilions.  The lot only has about 80 spots to start with and then to remove 20-30 makes a huge impact.  Also it is proposed to have the Downingtown Library moved into the Micken Building which fronts that particular piece of real estate.  Where would library patrons park if the skate park has reduced the availability of the places along with a burst of spring weather?  I am sure that businesses along Wallace will not be happy to have their spots hijacked for this purpose and Rite Aid may become a opponent.

Mr. Terry seemed quite upset that council was not willing to say yes right off the bat and it become a done deal.  He claimed that not having a spot picked out was hindering fund raising efforts.  That may be true, but how productive would fundraising be if the spot that you wanted created a serious issue in the borough and you had too many people against what you were proposing?

Ann Feldman brought up some very valid points that the Historic and Park Commission had discussed and Patricia Todd even offered the proceeds from the H&P events if Mr. Terry would consider another location.  Mayor Maxwell whom is on the steering committee along with Steven Henning seemed to be of the same mind as Mr. Terry that it needs to be built now.  Nick Winkler appeared to be on board that the placement requested by DSP was the place for it to go.  Cara DeStafano brought up a valid point about impervious ground.

However, with all that said, a skate park is something that would be an asset and a good place for the kids who enjoy that sort of play, but placing it in an area that will cause more trouble than good is not the right thing to do. It is not an immediate need in the borough.  Is it wanted? Yes.  Would it help to keep some of the kids off the streets with their boards and bikes? Yes.  But can you just decide to place something of this scale in a spot that is questionable and not expect to have resistance?  No.  Look for other locations and make your decision, then fund raise to make it the best that it can be, not a rendition of the dream.  It does not have to be completed by the first day of summer.....the kids and the skaters will be here long after that.


  1. Kerr Park is huge and would be a great spot for the park unfortunately 97% of the park is in a 100 year floodplain. As FEMA encourages the use of recreation in floodplains (ie. baseball, soccer, etc.)skate park uses require structures to be built which leads in non impervious surface. Coupled with the fact that the cleanup of the park after a flood would be a lot of work. The permits required and engineering required would surely use up their budget before breaking ground. There really are no other visible recreation centered spots available with a foundation that aren't parking lots. It makes the selection process very difficult, but the planning commission recommended the site at Kerr based on the fact that it was the 'best' we could find at the current time.

  2. Sean I don't doubt that at the time it did look like the right place and probably from a planning view point it is, but with other logistics that come into the picture the site is less than ideal. But some of the thoughts that were bandied around that if they receive more money the park can grow which would be great except that in that spot it can't. Then the task is finding another spot for the park and then the concrete that is left behind what do we do with that? I honestly think that the gun is being jumped on this. Let's see if there is a spot that is more amiable to ALL and then look to raise more funds to bring back the idea that it started out as instead of this scaled back version which, having kids who grew up with Tony Hawk and watching the tournaments and such that go along with this play, is not something I feel is going to draw as many kids as was made out to be. Rushing to production on anything just because it was made known borough wide too soon is not going to benefit anyone.

  3. Thanks for the write up Elaine. Am I the only Downingtown resident who isn't 100% for this skatepark in the first place? I think it started when I got in a conversation with a skatepark advocate and he started talking about putting it in the train yard in Johnsontown. I don't want to get all "not in my backyard" on this issue, but its literally IN MY BACKYARD!

    I'm just not convinced the project has the best interests of Downingtown residents overall.

  4. It should not be any were near to park...the lanquage that some of these kids use, no respect for the people around then...put in the open field behind boro hall

  5. Downingtown Historic and Parks and the planning commission along with DSP, Jack Law and Thomas Yuhas are working to get the spot approved. Once that is done then the building can begin. We have looked at a site that is much farther away from the All Abilities Playground, so the co-mingling of kids of different age ranges will be minimal. Once approval from the DEP comes through things should move a bit more quickly. Donations to offset the cost and to add to what DSP has already raised can be taken here...