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 Christmas....you 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.