Town of Herndon staff is preparing a complete analysis of two potential sites for the town’s future skate park, recently approved for funding with the council’s passing of the town’s annual budget earlier this month.
The two sites were narrowed down from a list of four compiled by a committee of town parks and recreation department staff and interested community members, according to Cindy Roeder, interim director of Herndon Parks and Recreation. The two municipally-owned properties have been sent to the Town Council as well as staff members of Herndon’s Department of Public Works and the Herndon Police Department for review in advance of a presentation of their benefits and shortcomings slated for a June public hearing, Roeder added.
During Herndon’s budget process at the beginning of May, the council approved $150,000 of park proffer funds to construct the skate park, which had been requested over the course of the last two years by dozens of residents.
TWO EARLIER potential locations for the park, including one on Herndon Middle School property, were ruled out as "impractical" by parks staff and skate park committee members, according to Roeder.
"There’s not a lot of open space in the town that isn’t already designated" for other uses and that fit the criteria necessary for the park, she said. Those criteria have included finding a visible, open space of at least 10,000 square feet and a parking lot that is at least 300 feet from residential areas.
The two finalist locations are essentially the only places at this moment in town that could be used for the park, according to Roeder.
"The reality is that this is the list," she said. "I don’t think there’s a lot of other options to the town and this project is not intended to include the purchase of any new properties."
ONCE TOWN STAFF members are able to develop an analysis of the engineering issues, potential community impact and safety concerns, staff will deliver a report to the council for review and a possible confirmation of a site as early as June, Roeder said.
At that time staff members would work with design professionals and the community to set up a site plan and look to drafting some of the amenities and equipment for the park, she added. The only thing sure at this point is that the site will be entirely above ground with ramps and other apparatuses made from wood and synthetic material, according to Cynthia Hoftiezer, recreation project coordinator for the Town of Herndon who served as a staff representative on the skate park committee.
"We want to make sure that when it’s there, that it’s good enough for beginners but that it will also keep the older kids challenged so that they’re not back on the streets," said Karen Anderson, a Herndon resident and skate park committee member. "We would like to see it supervised and as visible as possible to the community."
ONE OF THE QUESTIONS that will be need to be answered after a skate park is constructed is how that it will be maintained and possibly staffed, Anderson said, and other regional skate parks demonstrate different examples of raising the necessary money.
The Town of Leesburg’s 10-year-old Catoctin Skate Park, which measures a little more than 13,000 square feet is free and open to the public and sees as many as 15,000 visitors a year, according to Bill Ference, assistant director for the Leesburg Department of Parks and Recreation. Annually it costs between $5,000 and $10,000 to maintain the surface on the wooden ramps, money allocated in the town’s basic parks maintenance funding, he said.
The Powhatan Springs Skate Park in Arlington and the Wakefield Park Skate Park operated by Fairfax County in Annandale are self-sustaining due to fees for daily use, according to City of Arlington and Fairfax County officials. Both of the parks are staffed and the Powhatan Springs Skate Park includes designated free times as well as classes and tutorials taught for fees, according to staff members.
In all three cases, municipal parks staff members have said that the existence of the skate parks have been a boon for the community in that they offer safe and regulated sport alternatives and a place for residents to congregate.
"Skate parks are really essential in all communities," said Kimberly Baldini, park manager for Powhatan Springs. "It’s an alternative sport, but it still keeps everybody who comes there active, especially those kids who don’t have interest in soccer or basketball, it gives them an outlet for athletics and exercise."
"I’m really happy for Herndon that they’re getting this park … [Powhatan Springs Park] has meant a lot for so many of our residents and their families."