In 1997 a group of citizens approached the Anderson Township Park District Board of Park Commissioners requesting construction of a skate park facility. At that time, sovereign immunity for public parks did not include skate parks. The Board directed staff to work with the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association to have Skate Parks and other related recreational activities added to the Recreational Immunity Statute before they would consider a skating facility. Senate Bill 24 became law on 4-05-01, which effectively provided the required sovereign immunity.
On October 18, 2000, Meg Stevenson, a highly interested citizen presented the Board with a citizens’ petition for a skate park and offered to lead other citizens in a campaign to raise funds for a skate park. The Board made their decision after the skate park committee demonstrated 1) it was sorely needed in Anderson Township, 2) there was great interest for a skate park, 3) and most importantly, Ohio legislation was changed to give park agencies sovereign immunity from liability.
The Board agreed to strongly consider including a plan for a Skatepark (including bikes, boards and blades) in the development of our new Beech Acres Park and invited participation in the citizens’ planning committee. After the conceptual plans for Beech Acres Park were approved, the Skate Park Sub Committee expanded to 84 participants including 11 adults and continued its work. The committee determined it needed a short-term solution to fill the immediate need and a long-range plan for a permanent facility.
The creation of Skate Fest was the short-term solution. Skate Fest began in 2001 and was a partnership with our neighboring church, now named Parkside Church. The church leased our parking lot at no charge, weekly skating sessions took place on mobile wooden ramps, a youth minister brought the ramps for the season and a small prayer session took place each week. The committee organized and set up each week’s event, waivers were signed and the kids skated. Skate Fest was wildly popular and continued into 2002 with a slightly different format. Fees were charged to raise funds and cover additional insurance costs. Skate Fest demonstrated the need and support for this type of a facility to the community, an idea that had mixed reviews.
The Board agreed to commit $200,000 in development funds and the committee agreed to raise all additional funds needed.
The Skate Park Committee’s first major decision involved the consideration of a modular skate facility versus a concrete facility. The committee determined a concrete facility was a better long-range solution and designer Bill Minadeo, M3d Skate was hired to take the committee through a design process. Through a series of meetings with M3d Skate, the committee conceptually designed a 24,000 sq. ft. facility estimated at $500,000. The next step was to determine how the park could be phased and what part of the plan would provide the most value. We agreed on a phased approach, while not ideal, because it allowed us to offer something sooner to solve a huge community demand.
The Anderson Township Park District was active in the development and coordination of the planning committee, RFP for design and construction, site excavation and drainage, aggregate installation and operational procedure development. Phase one opened in April of 2004 to a group of excited skaters, bikers and rollerbladers of all ages. The Skatepark at Beech Acres Park continues to receive a high volume of year-round use, no matter what the weather seems to be!