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Orem discusses detention pond site for skaters

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Orem has a name for the city skate park, the Chad Farrer Memorial Skateboard Park. City officials, just don't have an exact location, funding or a design yet.

The city is working on that, starting with the appointment of the ad hoc citizen's committee that presented its report Tuesday night and continuing ahead with a public information meeting Aug. 12 at the Senior Friendship Center.The council accepted the suggestion for the name based on testimony from Anne Warshaw, a committee member who said Farrer's father, Bruce, was one of the first to speak in favor of a skate park. Warshaw also noted that Chad Farrer was an avid skateboarder who was killed recently in an auto accident.

Warshaw said the site recommended as the committee's choice for a skate park - in the detention basin on the corner of 400 North and 1200 West - is a beautiful and large site, one the city can develop as a showpiece.

David Cherrington, spokesman of the ad hoc committee, said the 1200 West site is the committee's first choice, followed by two other areas they believe ought to also be developed for skating; Hillcrest Park and Sharon Park.

Cherrington said the detention pond site has a number of advantages including accessibility to city buses, visibility and ample room for parking as it's located near Orem Fire Station No. 3

The disadvantage is that the pond performs its primary function often, filling with water after storms and during runoff periods. It would need to be washed down and swept after each fill, said Public Works Director Richard Manning.

There are no restroom facilities near the pond and no sidewalks on the streets approaching it. The city would need to provide restrooms, sidewalks and telephone access, Manning said.

Committee member Jim McClure said the site is not central enough and the city should be selecting a place based on proximity rather than where fewer folks will be offended.

A proposal earlier to locate the skate park in the City Center Park was immediately opposed by neighbors.

If the city decides to design a skate park in the detention pond or in one of the parks, city youth ought to be involved both in the conceptual stage and in raising funds for the construction, said Cherrington, to which the council agreed.

Cherrington said communities that have such parks do best if the youth feel a sense of ownership.

He said helmets and pads ought to be required and the park should be designed for beginner and intermediate skating with snake courses and street ramps rather than with the vertical ramps and deep swimming bowls more advanced skaters require. He also suggested the city petition the Utah Legislature to declare skateboarding a hazardous activity, thereby reducing the city's liability.

He also asked that the city clearly define for skaters where they are welcome and where they are not.

"As a general rule, in-line skating should be legal where jogging is allowed and skateboarding should be legal where cycling is allowed," he said.

Cherrington said research conducted by the committee found the interest in serious skating is not as high as that for swimming and for basketball but that the community is very aware there are no facilities for such.

"Even those who indicated no interest in skating themselves said this community needs a place for these people. We were really quite impressed with the feedback.

"The city really ought to have three places but we should get started with at least one," he said.

The City Council set aside $60,000 of community development block grant funds as seed money for a skate park and has funds in place that could go toward building the needed sidewalks, said City Manager Jim Reams.