The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 24, 2014

Skate park gets support it deserves

Why it matters: The skate park fire destroyed a building but not the spirit of its users and the community.


The Mankato Free Press

---- — Skaters should be stoked knowing the Mankato community will not bail on them.

Maybe the entire community is not up on skateboarding jargon, but enough people recognize how important the skate park is that they are supporting efforts to rebuild it in numerous ways after the YMCA’s skate park building off Balcerzak Drive burned down Feb. 1.

Although insurance will likely cover costs of constructing a new skate park building, other money raised can be used for things inside the building that won’t be covered, plus ramps, and perhaps transporting skaters to other parks while Chesley Skate Park is being rebuilt, said YMCA Executive Director John Kind.

Businesses, the skaters, their parents, veteran skaters and other community members are raising funds in numerous ways to bring back the park. Some restaurants gave a cut of the day’s proceeds, and a skating competition benefited the park. On the gofundme.com site, a drive to raise $5,000 is in progress; 58 people chipped in to bring the total to $3,870 as of noon Thursday. But the generosity goes beyond people opening up their pocketbooks. A carpenter posted an offer of his time and skill to rebuild. Another man posted a comment about his plans to organize a music show to benefit the skate park rebuilding effort.

This park was more than a building to the young people who used it. As some of the park users told The Free Press the day of the fire, the park is their home away from home. Many of the skaters grew up at the park, skating there since they were elementary age and growing into their late teens and early 20s.

The skate park, staffed by the Y, provided a safe, supervised environment for the kids who learned to love it there so much.

The YMCA is all about kids and providing them a variety of opportunities, and its leaders have indicated a new skate park will be built. And like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the new park will likely be even better with time for thought going into what the new park should be and how it could best serve even more kids. The YMCA plans to find out where the skate park’s users live to help determine if there is a better location for it. Transportation options also will be considered for users who are too young to drive.

And the YMCA is getting input from kids, which is so important in the process.

On Tuesday the YMCA Board of Directors will meet to consider the Executive Committee’s recommendation to find a temporary skating solution, based on the premise that a new skate park will be built.

The community will be anxious to know what the board will decide and will no doubt be ready to figure out how they can help make it happen.