The City of Emporia voiced support for improvements to the Southwest Santa Fe Skateboard Park as commissioners reviewed renderings of the project Wednesday afternoon.
The skateboard park received an anonymous donation of $250,000 last year to make improvements and updates. The donation came after Maddox Gutierrez, a local teenager, asked the city to make improvements to the park.
The city will review American Ramp Company renderings and construction specifications. According to its website, American Ramp Company has been in the action sports park business for over 20 years.
“What started as a couple of guys in a Midwestern garage has grown into one of the most diverse Action Sports Park design and construction teams in the world,” the site says. “…We are now seeing children who grew up in one of our first parks becoming parents and community leaders themselves, all passionate about pursuing the mission of creating places to ride and recreate.”
Nathan Bemo, founder and president of the Joplin, Mo.-based skate park design group, told commissioners the park concepts were created after interviewing local skateboarders and using that data.
He said skaters indicated the types of obstacles they would like to see in the park, including more street elements and traditional skateboard ramps.
“We included a small street with the ledges and the rail…and we kind of did it all in one, expanding the area to make it bigger,” Bemo said, adding that there are different options depending on the funding available.
Another possible addition is a bowl – essentially an empty pool – which would include drainage features. The question of drainage was posed by Mayor Becky Smith.
Commissioner Susan Brinkman asked if different phases of the park could be added, such as a proposed element for cycling. She felt it was easier to make changes in the future if a step-by-step plan was available for reference.
Commissioner Rob Gilligan said Gutierrez played an important role in the design process.
“He was really nice of the guy behind it all,” Gilligan said. “In 2020, when kids really couldn’t do anything but be outside, he started this online petition. It really clicked for me, so that’s when we really started looking into it.
Gilligan contacted then-city manager Mark McAnarney and the city’s parks department.
“We started looking and we found the American Ramp Company that does really neat work on skate and bike action parks all over the Midwest and across the country,” he said. “They came to town and visited our skatepark and said they thought they could come up with some cool ideas.”
Delays, transitions and COVID-19 hampered the process, but Gutierrez was there every step of the way.
“We would share with Maddox designs and stuff like that,” Gilligan said. “He really got involved and was a champion for it. … I happen to be the one still in contact with American Ramp Company.
Costs for the improvements range from $250,000 to $500,000 for the work, depending on the route chosen by the city. Smith expressed support for moving forward with the full $500,000 upgrades. With $250,000 already earmarked for spending, the rest of the money could come from Kahola’s parks fund.
Gilligan said the skatepark marks a chance for the city to make a “wise investment” in its younger population.
“I am truly impressed and proud that the city has made significant investments in our parks over the past five years,” he said. “Every playground in our community is less than a year old now. … That’s a lot of investment in our parks, but what we haven’t done is something for our teenage community. This will really be the next step for us.
A decision could be made as early as next week.
In other cases, the commissioners discussed adopting the Uniform Public Offense Codes of the League of Kansas Municipalities. City attorney Christina Montgomery said these are released annually to help cities stay in compliance with state laws.
The new version won’t be released until July, so Montgomery said no action needed to be taken immediately. City Manager Trey Cocking recommended that commissioners take some time to review the most recent posting before making a decision.
Montgomery and Emporia Police Chief Ed Owens also spoke to the Commons Consumer Area Commissioners.
Three common consumer area permit applications have been filed by Emporia Main Street, Visit Emporia and Radius Production LLC, covering different parts of downtown Emporia.
Montgomery said the zones can overlap as long as the CCAs are all open at the same time, which means Emporia Main Street and Visit Emporia cannot hold separate events simultaneously.
Questions have been raised about the need for and availability of municipal fencing to cordon off CCAs. Since the new policy will allow buildings to act as barrier points, it was determined that fencing could be used sparingly.