Saturday, Jul 23, 2016
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Matt Thompson

BLURBS FROM THE 'BURG

Skateboarder chasing results from city shows the local government listens

About three months ago, I was contacted by a local skateboarder, John Hawley, who called me to talk to me about the prospect of getting a skate park in Perrysburg.

I explained how he would need to go to city council and recreation committee about it and they could be more helpful - and added to contact me for a story on how things are going. While initially the idea was in the back of my head I soon forgot about it.

Honestly, I had my doubts. I didn't know enough about Mr. Hawley's dedication to the project and if he would follow through with the city. I also didn't know how responsive city council would be to a skate park. 

Then in December I saw the preliminary 2014 budget for the City of Perrysburg. Much to my surprise, $95,000 was allotted for a new skate park. That has been reduced to $20,000 to make design plans - but it is still there.

Now that sometimes doesn't mean much on its own, as the city always projects any possible expenses over the next year to make sure there are no surprises.

But it does show the city is open to Mr. Hawley's request. Right now he said there is nowhere legally to skate within the city, and he and fellow skateboarders have written letters to the mayor and police trying to find an answer.

"There's a big following of skaters in Perrysburg and other towns close by," Mr. Hawley said. 

The next steps Mr. Hawley said he is working on are developing an organization with a group name, appointing group officials, and gathering as many members as they can get in support of bringing a skate park to Perrysburg. 

He's also talking to Right Direction Youth Development Program, a non-profit they could potentially partner with so that people could legally donate money.

Mr. Hawley, 23, is going to local businesses to gauge whether they would help sponsor the park. 

Whether I agree with the city putting money into a skate park, I think it is good the council is willing to listen to someone so passionate and help them try to achieve their dreams.

City council member Todd Grayson said the local government really does listen to people, and will work with people if they reach out - this helps proves that.

Mr. Hawley knows this is likely a three-year project and will be a slow process - but he's ready to take it on. And the city is proving it is willing to hear it out, and work on a resolution if there is enough community support for it. 

I enjoy this story because instead of complaining and then doing nothing, Mr. Hawley is moving forward with his idea. And it shows that one person's passion and dedication can make a difference - we will just have to wait and see if he gets the community support to see it through. 

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