A look back at skate park historyPublished 9:55am Monday, November 11, 2013
I have been concerned about the recent discussion to move the skate park and would like to offer a recap of the history of the skate park in Albert Lea. I had the privilege of working with “Skateboard” Stan Sevaldson in developing the skate park in Albert Lea.
Stan witnessed some kids skating in a park, learned that they had no place to legitimately skate. He had an enduring love for kids that was expressed in his work with baseball and this transformed to his work for a skate park. It was impossible to ignore his enthusiasm. During this work, I learned that skateboarding was attracting more kids than little league baseball. It actually resulted in fewer injuries than most sports and is a lot cheaper for kids to participate in as an activity.
Stan worked tirelessly in garnering donations and support from community members.
We finally had sufficient funds to contract with Tru Ride out of Duluth to build the equipment that we wanted. The next step was a place. The city offered unused tennis courts by the pool. This drew the ire of many tennis players, but we were given the spot by the pool. The equipment was professionally set up by Tru Ride and the skate park began. It was operated totally by volunteers who gave their time to supervise the park and it was free to riders.
For whatever reason, it was decided that the skate park should be relocated to the pool site. The existing courts were not suitable for tennis. The city then resurfaced the courts, Tru Ride came down and disassembled the equipment and re-assembled it. We then staffed the park and charged the riders to use the equipment. This became difficult to do and we felt that the concept of charging inhibited some use. After Stan passed away, I went to the city and proposed that they take over the operation of the park. In order for that to happen, the two ramps had to be lowered from 6 feet to 4 feet. In order for the park to be free and operated by the city, this had to happen. Since then, the park has been free to riders and bmx riders.
I appreciated the letter that detailed the lack of police activity needed at the park. As in most things in life, the majority of people that use the park are there solely to use it. There will always be an element, regardless of the activity, that presents a negative image. I would hope that this is not the final decision regarding the skate park. After locating at the pool site, it was felt that this was and is an ideal place for the skate park.