July 25, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Skate park opens in Wadsworth

Lisa Hlavinka | The Gazette

WADSWORTH — Dozens of skateboarders attended the grand opening of Wadsworth Skate Park Monday evening, a project three years in the making.

Though open only a few weeks, the grand opening commemorated the city’s first skate park, located off of West Street in Valley View Park.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Smith said planning the skate park took longer than he expected. While other sports have organized leagues and parental leadership, Smith said the skating community is more loosely organized.

Still, Smith said he wanted kids to be involved in planning the park. It was local skateboarders who were the first to bring the idea to City Council and the parks and recreation department, he said.

“We have a basketball court and a baseball field in this city, but there isn’t a place for one of the most popular sports in Wadsworth,” he said. “It seemed like the time was now to go forward with it rather than (the kids) just using a facility like the steps of the library or guardrails.”

Te city allocated $75,000 for the skate park. Raising the additional $25,000 to build the park was up to Smith and volunteers in the community.

In designing the park, Smith said kids filled out surveys and sent him drawings of what they would like to see at the park. Those drawings were sent back and forth between the city and a Canadian company that finalized the design.

“We thought if the kids were involved in the design, they’ll take ownership of the park because it will be what they’re looking for,” Smith said.

Because of its smaller size, Smith said the park will not serve as a destination park, and mostly will be used by local kids.

“Our goal was quality over quantity,” he said, adding that building a larger park was not within the budget.

Professional skateboarder Doug Brown presented his “Skate Straight” program at the grand opening, a program that encourages kids to stay free of drugs and alcohol.

The park is open at dawn and closes at dusk. Children younger than age 10 must be accompanied by an adult.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@ohio.net.