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Court gives #036;13,000 toward skate park

Money is coming in for Ironton to have a skate park.

Last week, the Probate/Juvenile Court gave $13,000 in grant money to the city’s Recreation Department.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship has been looking into getting a skate park in Ironton for the past year. In August 2007, City Council discussed the cost and location of the park.

Blankenship, who is spearheading the effort, said he has talked with skaters around town and that he is working with them on the design. Architect Shawn Walker discussed plans with council then and said a park could cost any where from $5,000 to $80,000 depending on how it is built and what is built on it.

“We need to have something that is worthwhile and will be used,” Walker said last year. “Anything smaller than that and it will be money thrown away.”

Blankenship said he and Parks and Recreation Director Brett Thomas discussed what to build. Blankenship added that he went to a skate park in one town where the skaters didn’t like the design so it didn’t get used much.

“So we want to maximize the use of it by designing it for the kids,” he said, adding the “street” design with ramps, rails and other things to skate on is the more popular choice.

“We have met with skaters and trying to get some ideas and gather information,” he said.

The city has also applied for a $50,000 grant from Ohio’s NatureWorks agency and Blankenship said they should hear whether the city gets the grant sometime in August.

He said the money from the Probate/Juvenile Court is a “good jump start.”

“We’d like to see more donations and we will be asking local businesses for donations,” he said. “We are very appreciative of the efforts of Judge Payne and his court.”

Judge David Payne of the Probate/Juvenile Court said the $13,000 comes from a Department of Youth Services grant that is geared to providing activities to help keep kids from getting into trouble with the law.

The judge said while he may not understand the urge to skate, he knows there are many kids who do enjoy skating.

“We are encouraged that the city is willing to get involved in a positive project,” Payne said. “Our kids do need something for leisure. We tell them not to go out and get into trouble but then are we going to expend some effort and give them some place to go.”

He added that by giving the skaters some place to go, it reduces the number of complaints by businesses and property owners who don’t want the skaters on their land for fear of damage.

“I think it’s really positive,” Payne said. He added that the grant money from the Department of Youth Services goes to a number of organizations in town including the 9th Street project and other activities that fit within the agency’s guidelines.

The money is grant money and does not come from the county’s general fund.

“I look at it as an agreement for services that goes toward prevention programs rather than a donation,” Payne said.

In October, then-Ironton Mayor John Elam and the Ironton school systems polled 799 students as to what type of park or recreational activity they would like to see in Ironton and a skate park came in second after a water park.