The organizers of a skateboard park in Elmira can check off “location” from the to-do list, as Woolwich this week gave the green light to Bristow Park as the home of the facility.
Skate Elmira, the student-led initiative to bring a skate park to Woolwich, saw councillors back the selected spot this week. The group will be making another appearance at council Monday night to make it official.
After a February 28 public meeting where the group discussed potential locations to the community, Skate Elmira settled on Bristow Park, at the corner of First Street and Industrial Drive, as the location for Elmira’s first skateboard and BMX destination.
“We had nothing but positive feedback – we were a little surprised,” said Skate Elmira co-chair Dustin Martin. “In general, it seems everyone is onboard with the idea of a skatepark, or that everybody was already onboard. We didn’t have to convince anyone.”
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While the group considered several locations, including some close to the Woolwich Memorial Centre, the Bristow Park venue proved to be an easy decision.
“It’s a big space,” said Martin. “There’s lots of room to build a big park, and to build additional features. We’ve tossed around a lot of ideas about a sports pad, an outdoor stage of some kind, maybe a walking trail.”
Added co-chair Zack Barriage, “Bristow Park is really exciting, because our vision from the beginning was a community park. Not just a skate park, but something the whole town can enjoy.”
For Woolwich’s director of recreation and facilities, Karen Makela, the Bristow Park location had the most pluses. It’s a central location, with good access by foot, bike and transit. There’s room to expand, which was not the case at the WMC, for instance, and expansion often comes quite quickly after a skatepark opens due to strong usage numbers. There are also easily-accessible hookups for water, sewers and hydro at the site.
Once the township’s decision is formal, organizers will step up fundraising efforts.
“We haven’t approached any companies for sponsorship yet, because we wanted to make sure we were secure in the location,” said Barriage. “Having the land and knowing that we have a partnership with the township also gives us a lot of ground for grant applications.” (Among other options, Skate Elmira has its eye on applying for an Ontario Trillium Fund grant).
He added, “We want to get across this whole-family vision for the park. Parks often will just have a playground for the little ones and not-much-else for anyone else … the whole vision is to bring people together.”
Both co-chairs hope supporters will come out in force to Monday’s council meeting at the township administrative office on Church Street. Next, the group plans to launch its public fundraising efforts on June 22, with the venue to be determined.
Private and public funding permitting, the group hopes to begin construction in May 2014.