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Skate park maneuvers into place

IRONTON — Following nearly two years of fundraising and planning, the proposed Ironton Skate Park is starting to carve itself into something tangible.

With a site location finalized and a majority of the funding needed for ramp design and concrete work secure, the park is close to entering its next stage of completion — selecting the companies to design and build the park.

“In the next few weeks we will be making a decision on which companies to go with and what our bid timetable is going to be,” Mayor Rich Blankenship said Tuesday.

The mayor said the city is currently in discussions with Joplin, Mo., based American Ramp Company for design and construction of the skate park.

Blankenship highlighted one perk ARC can offer Ironton is a “matching” dollar-for-dollar program to cities that have been awarded monetary grants for skate parks by the Tony Hawk Foundation.

Early this year, the city received a $5,000 grant from the foundation set up by the professional skateboarder. Launched in 2002, the foundation awards grants between $5,000 and $25,000 to communities looking to expand skateboarding within their region.

Blankenship said ARC would match the $5,000 with material donations.

As for the concrete work needed for the skate park, the mayor added that a bid package will soon be drafted and advertised. City ordinance mandates any projects or purchases estimated to cost more than $25,000 require the project to be placed out for bid.

The ARC share of the project is estimated to come well under $25,000.

On June 11, Blankenship informed city council of his intentions to develop the skate park on city property at the corners of North Fourth and Etna streets.

The mayor’s decision to finalize the park at a central location within the city came after lobbying by some to have the park located near the soon-to-be-opened Ironton Elementary and Middle schools on Delaware Street on the city’s north side.

The skate park got jump started in July 2008 when Judge David Payne and the Probate/Juvenile Court gave a $13,000 grant to the city’s recreation department. The grant, allocated through the Lawrence County Department of Youth Services, is geared towards providing activities to help keep youngsters from getting in trouble with the law.

In November, the city’s recreation department was awarded a $30,000 grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources NatureWorks program.

The grant allowed the city to allocate a portion of the monies to construct the skate park along with a portion of the grant to be allocated towards the Ironton Riverfront Park Redevelopment project.

NatureWorks projects are funded through an Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Bond Issue that was approved by voters in 1993.

The grant program provides up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance for local governments and park districts for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of recreational areas.

Other major donations include $2,000 from a benefit concert at Frog Town and a $1,000 donation by the Child Welfare Club in March.

Architect Shawn Walker told the city in 2007 that the park would be mainly concrete and have ramps built of steel. He said the price of the park depends on the amount of concrete and other materials used.

Blankenship said Tuesday he intends on keeping the budget for the skate park within the $69,000 that has been raised to date.