Public input sought on skate park
Though the pool at O.B. Nelson Park will remain quiet and empty this year, the area around it could soon become a den of activity if all goes according to plan when construction begins on a skate park this summer.
But before construction can begin, the city needs a blueprint, and it’s giving residents a chance to draw it. The council awarded Spohn Ranch of Los Angeles a contract for $110,000 to design and build a skate park. Vince Onel, project manager at Spohn Ranch, is looking for public input on the skate park and is hosting a forum for it at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Fairfield Middle School cafetorium.
Project engineer Melanie Carlson of French-Reneker-Associates said the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting will be to gather input from skateboarders to learn the design elements they want at the skate park. Spohn Ranch wants to know what parts of a skate park, such as ramps, railings, pyramids, half pipes, bowls and stairs, the locals would find entertaining. The meeting is not to discuss the appropriate location of a skate park. Carlson said questions of that sort should be directed to the city council.
Drawings that were released a few months ago placed the skate park west of the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center. Carlson said the location of the proposed skate park was changed to O.B. Nelson Park after Onel toured the site with her and Fairfield Park and Rec director Derik Wulfekuhle.
Carlson said building the skate park in O.B. Nelson would be less disruptive because it is already home to many outdoor activities, and thus the neighbors are accustomed to the sound of a large crowd. The neighbors of the rec center, in contrast, are not used to such commotion. The greater availability of parking at O.B. Nelson was also taken into consideration.
Although the location is not yet final, Carlson expects the skate park to be built in between the ball fields and the swimming pool’s parking lot where there is now playground equipment. Carlson said the city might demolish some of the old equipment. She said that location is preferred because it will be close to Fillmore Avenue and, consequently, easy to monitor.
Spohn Ranch submitted the low bid of $110,000 for the skate park, $1,000 less than the other bid, which was from Grandline Skateparks. French-Reneker-Associates recommended the council contract with Spohn Ranch, although Carlson said the $1,000 savings was far from the main factor in the company’s decision.
Carlson said she appreciated that Onel visited Fairfield in March, which is when he suggested building the skate park at O.B. Nelson.
“Having a chance to meet with him made us realize he’d be a good person to work with,” Carlson said.
Though he works in Los Angeles, Onel is intimately familiar with southeast Iowa, having grown up in Iowa City and helping to design the skate park in Oskaloosa, which French-Reneker-Associates found highly impressive.
Spohn Ranch is planning to build the skate park this summer and have it open to the public by late September or October. Once it’s done, the company will hold a grand opening featuring demonstrations from amateur and professional skateboarders.
The skate park is being financed entirely by an anonymous donor who has agreed to contribute $160,000 toward the project. Since the design and construction is only expected to cost $110,000, Carlson said the remaining $50,000 could be used to purchase lights, remodel the nearby shelters or improve the park in other ways. Regardless of whether it receives lights or not, the skate park will be a city park, and all city parks close at 10 p.m.