Group hopes to build a new skate park

Group hopes to build a new skate park
By: Carly O'Keefe

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Currently, the only skate park in Carbondale is located on the Southern Illinois University campus, but members of the Carbondale Alternative Sports Initiative (CASI) hope to change that.
"We feel it's necessary here," said CASI member Sharry Henk. "There's a huge interest in skating these days, not only in Carbondale, but across the nation. We're looking forward to building a nice safe place where kids can skate and we can watch."
Teen skateboarders say they're often made to feel like criminals for taking part in their sport.
"I've been kicked out of everywhere, everywhere you can skate--they don't want you to," said 16-year-old skater and CASI member Jesse Teston.
That puts skateboarders in a bind.  According to Henk, the only spot in town that's specifically designated for skateboarding is inadequate for public use.
"Beyond being on SIU property, there are pretty big gaps in the pavement, and I don't know if you know what happens when a wheel gets stuck in a crack, but it's usually pretty painful," said Henk.
That's why CASI has approached the Carbondale Park District about setting aside a portion of the Superblock Sports Field Complex for their cause.
"We're not asking for money, we're asking for a piece of land to build the skate park, and have support from the park district for insurance liability and maintenance," said Henk.
The group plans to raise at least $150,000 through grants, private and corporate donations, and community group support.  Within the next year, CASI hopes to open a park that will draw skateboarders from all over the region.
"Our kids go all over the place.  They go to Belleville.  They went to Paducah last weekend to skate," said CASI member Darren Berger. "While we're there, we buy things, we shop, and with the popularity of skating, I think it would be a great thing for the city."
Park District Executive Director Brian Ramsey said the idea was received favorably by the Park District Board in their meeting Tuesday.  However, no action was taken by the board on the issue. Ramsey said the board is not likely to vote on the issue until the CASI receives a sizeable percentage of that $150,000.