The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 7, 2014

Skate park plans move forward

Temporary site to be sought

MANKATO — If Mankato Family YMCA's Board of Directors follows the recommendation of its Executive Committee, Chesley Skate Park will have a temporary location soon and a new facility will be built.

The Skate Park was destroyed by fire Feb. 1. Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Jeff Bengtson said Friday that the cause of the fire remains under investigation. He also said arson has not been ruled out.

No matter what caused the fire, the YMCA Executive Committee said it recognized how important the facility was to its users and how well it served the YMCA mission of building healthy minds, bodies and communities.

Board President Jonathan Zierdt also said generous contributions from the Chesley family and the United Way have provided the funds needed to keep the park financially sound. The park is named after Betty Chesley, a woman who had seen skate parks while living in California and wanted, along with other community supporters, to build one for local kids when she returned to Mankato.

An emergency meeting of the YMCA's Executive Committee took place Friday to decide what steps to take next.

"We are recommending to the board to identify a temporary skating solution, based on the premise that we are proposing to rebuild the skate park," Zierdt said in a written statement after the meeting.

Staff has been asked to start looking for temporary locations immediately and to start organizing demolition and removal of what remains of the building off Balcerzak Drive, the release said.

No decision has been made about whether to rebuild at the same location or in another location, said Executive Director John Kind. He expects insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding regardless of what caused the fire. The property where the building was located is owned by the city, so 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.

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