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Published: Tuesday, 9/14/2010

Pacesetter to get skateboard park


The Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District will build a skateboarding complex in Pacesetter Park, keeping it away from dense residential neighborhoods and putting it several miles from the Sylvania business district, where skateboarders have often congregated over the years.

After discussion surfaced in late July about putting a skate park in Veterans' Memorial Field and city officials subsequently indicated vacant land at Monroe Street and Parkwood Boulevard might be available, the recreation district's board decided last month to stick with Pace-

setter, Katie Cappellini, city council's representative on the board, told council last week.

"It's not perfect. It's not downtown," Mrs. Cappellini said. But she said a a well-kept pedestrian and bicycle path links downtown with Pacesetter, and Pacesetter has equipment, facilities, and supervision.

Ken Katafias, the recreation district's operations manager, said the Pacesetter site will be about 10,000 square feet and close to a parking lot and several batting cages.

"It gets a lot of foot traffic going past it," he said.

Ken Minichiello, the construction manager for other recent district projects, now is working with a half-dozen or so skate-park design companies to develop a concept for the Pacesetter facility that would then be offered for comments from Sylvania's skateboarders, Mr. Katafias said.

The concept should be drafted within about 60 days, the operations manager said, but the scheduling of a review meeting is uncertain.

Also uncertain is the budget.

"We have a block of money," Mr. Katafias said, but declined to say how much is on hand because some operating funds could be added to the budget if a small cost increase could make a big difference.

"The board hasn't completely decided how big they want to make it. We want to see how much we can get for our money," he said.

Mrs. Cappellini said construction could begin in the spring.

Several Veterans' Memorial Field neighbors attended a July city council meeting to protest the possibility of a skate park there. They said it would generate noise throughout the day and that supervision at the unstaffed facility might be a problem.

Mrs. Cappellini said the recreation district subsequently studied a city offer for the Monroe-Parkwood property, once considered but rejected as the site for a new firehouse, and decided it was too small and would require a six-figure outlay for restrooms and other support facilities.

Mayor Craig Stough said he was concerned about Pacesetter's distance from downtown but was encouraged by further remarks from Mrs. Cappellini about the potential for developing smaller "skate spots" in other parts of Sylvania that could draw skateboarders away from skating on private property.

And Pat Nowak, executive director of the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce, said Pacesetter should be a fine skate-park location because many skateboarders come downtown from distant neighborhoods specifically to skate. She predicted the skateboarders will travel wherever necessary to find the challenges they seek.

"They were up and down the steps of our office," she said. "What they want is the obstacle course. That makes it exciting."

The problem with downtown, Ms. Nowak said, is that the streets and sidewalks are not level, and bad accidents had occurred as a consequence.

"It's been an issue for years and years and years," she said.

Mr. Katafias said he didn't think any suggestions made during the planned public meetings would result in changes big enough to delay building a skate park at Pacesetter.

"I don't see drastic changes. I think we've got a pretty good idea of what kids like from all the previous meetings," he said.

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