Lufkin officials willing to work with residents over alternate skatepark design

Lufkin officials willing to work with residents over alternate skatepark design
The site of the park (Source: KTRE Staff)
The site of the park (Source: KTRE Staff)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Leaders with the city of Lufkin are willing to put plans on hold for a modular skatepark after a group of skaters and concerned parents voiced their concerns over durability and safety.

The city was ready to award $117,707 to American Ramp Company for the building of a park where two tennis courts currently sit at Kiwanis Park. The city manager made council and others aware of the money after capital improvement projects came in under budget. Other funds that were opened up are being spent to make improvements to the streets around Garrett Primary, security upgrades to the parking lot at Lufkin Police Headquarters, and bathrooms for Brandon Park. Wright is asking the council to hold off on the bid.

Amy Dunn and a group of concerned citizens have been meeting over the past two weeks with Wright and Parks and Recreation Director Mike Akridge, trying to share their views. Dunn and others first met with officials in the spring but were told that there was no money for the project. Wright said after the initial meetings, the funding became available. The  decision to hold off on the bid was a small victory for Dunn.

"I spent probably over 72 hours of my time meeting and pleading with officials," Dunn said. "i am just ecstatic right now that all of this paid off."

Wright said the city believed they had a good deal and were trying to brings something to the community that could be used.

"We were wanting to build something that kids and adults could enjoy and would be big enough and safe for a large crowd," Wright said. "We're not really looking to put our will on anybody. We are just trying to provide something we were asked to look at doing."

Dunn and her group feel the modular park that is made of pre-fabricated steel ramps is more ideal for a cooler climate city or an indoor facility.

"We have looked into a lot of these parks and it's documented that those things cause second and third degree burns on children or skaters that use them," Dunn said. "They rust easy, as well, and they do not last long with the heavy contact from skaters."

Wright has given the group an opportunity to meet with Ackridge next week at city hall to discuss a plan.

"We are going to have some conceptual skatepark designs where the kids are going to be able to come in and say, 'Hey, I really like this part' or 'I really like this one but can we change a few things?' They will actually bet to give their input and look back and say, 'Hey, I helped get that."

Wright added that at after the design, they would have to go through proper procurement steps that would select a design company before coming up with a final plan. Wright said the group also has to stay in the $175,00 budget.

"We are going to work with them to see if that is possible and see where we can go from here," Wright said. "There is a possibility that if the park gets up and going and is doing good that we could expand the park if citizens bring more money to the table through donations. We are always willing to make improvements if the money is there."

People looking to be involved in the process for the altered design are welcomed to join the meeting on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. in the city hall chambers.

Copyright 2016 KTRE. All rights reserved.