By Amanda Ensinger
Residents of Westgate recently attended a public meeting to voice their opposition, as well as their support, for a proposed skatepark at Westgate Park.
At the meeting, Columbus Recreation and Parks Engineer Rick Miller discussed the project and answered questions.
The city is considering adding the park to Westgate by removing approximately 18 parking spots from the parking lot.
“Right now, this project is on hold while we talk with the community,” Miller said. “A few of the things we are currently considering include where is the best place for the park and does the community want this in their neighborhood.”
Miller said the reason the city is considering adding this park to the Westgate area is a result of resident’s requesting it.
“For almost 25 years we have had people asking for a skatepark in this community,” he said. “We see kids and adults skate boarding all over the area, which also shows a need for this.”
The proposed park would be the size a tennis court and would not take any green space from the park.
“We also would add landscaping to have a buffer area,” Miller added. “This landscaping would provide shade for skateboarders and bikers, as well as provide a sound buffer for residents who live close to the park.”
The cost to construct the park would be approximately $150,000 and construction could start in the fall.
Columbus Park and Recreation are also planning other skateparks in 2017. These new parks will be located at Dodge Park, Tuttle and Fairwood Park. The skatepark at Dodge Park will cost $100,000 to construct, while the other parks will each cost about $150,000.
Miller said the next step in the proposed skatepark at Westgate is the decide on a site and then pick a consultant.
“We would like to get community feedback by the spring and summer and start construction in the fall 2017,” Miller said. “However, right now Westgate has only been chosen as a potential site and nothing is set in stone.”
Many residents had questions about the proposed park. Some were opposed to it, while others were excited about the idea of a skatepark coming to Westgate.
“I have nothing against the city building skateparks,” said Paul Burnt, Westgate resident. “However, I do feel a skatepark is not a good thing to put in a residential area. There are other areas on the Westside where this can go.”
Other residents were concerned that a skatepark could turn into a hang out where teens gather to smoke marijuana.
However, some residents were supportive of the proposed park and wanted to clear up misconceptions about skateboarders.
“There are people in this neighborhood that want this skatepark here,” said John Vance, Westgate resident. “I’m a teacher, a taxpayer, a father and I skateboard. There is a misconception about skateboarders that needs to change. To say more bad things will happen at this skatepark than the basketball courts is wrong. BMX and skateboarding are Olympic sports and need to be treated with respect.”
City officials plan to hold more public meetings before making a decision. A decision on if the skatepark will come to Westgate will be decided by this spring.