Skateboarders will soon have a new hangout to grab some air and do kickflips in Winnebago.
The Winnebago City Council approved moving forward with skate park plans at their meeting on July 8.
"We have arrived at using half of the tennis court for the skate park, at least temporarily," city administrator Chris Ziegler says. "Eventually, we would like to have the skate park in its own area. The goal is to get enough momentum moving forward, earn more fundraising money and give the riders a space of their own. But, this conversation will be discussed further in the future to cover more details like where the new location would be."
The current plan is to use two existing ramps which were donated from Delavan, and use volunteer labor to build some additional features for the park.
According to skate park citizen leader Ricky Paz, the ramps are in decent shape.
"I had my son ride those ramps and they were surprisingly sturdy enough," he explained. "We were both surprised because they are at least eight years old with some wear." One issue brought up by Paz was the amount of money it would take to have a company come in and build a park.
"One positive would be that the company would give a certain warranty on the ramps," he says. "But, on the negative side, it would cost a lot of money more than we have."
The volunteer labor will save costs, according to Paz.
"However, there may be some liability issues," he says. "If someone gets hurt, they could potentially sue the city."
According to Ziegler, the city has been researching options and insurance requirements for some time and feel like they have a good handle on those issues.
"It is not a problem to get the skate park insured," Ziegler explained. "The insurance is included in the current policy of Winnebago."
Council member Scott Robertson believes the location by the pool is perfect.
"It really is the ideal place to have it," he says. "There will be lots of eyes and the skate park will attract more people to the park, which is always good."
As far as the location goes, the tennis court needs some work.
"Fixing the tennis court is approximately $2,000," Ziegler says. "Also, there needs to be a fence put in. That should hopefully be less than $500."
The skate park group (comprised of citizens) have raised about $5,500 through fundraising, according to Paz.
"That money will go towards building an additional five ramps," he says. "We will also have to repair the ones donated from Delavan, too. And, we are looking into purchasing tarps for covering the ramps in the winter."
The ramps are going to be made of plywood and will last a minimum of five to six years, according to Paz.
"The Delavan ramps were made from a professional ramp company and we will use those as guides," Paz explains. "It would be nice in the future to possibly build ramps with better material. It would be drastically more expensive, but they would be able to withstand the inclement weather."
The park will also include some signage displaying rules.
"We are still working on getting some donation money to make this happen," Ziegler explains. "In the future, we would also like to put up another sign, or plaque, recognizing donors."
Winnebago's chief of police, Eric Olson, also voiced his opinion at the meeting.
"I am in favor of the new park. I've seen parks like this succeed before," he says. "It gives kids somewhere to go and helps with improving safety. The more people in the park, the better."
As for a timeline, Ziegler hopes the skate park could be up by the time school starts.
"I think by having the council approve plans moving forward, it shows the community we are serious about this," Ziegler explains.
Robertson joked that the park has been in discussion for such a long time, but it would be nice to get it completed before the kids interested in using it start to drive.
"It's great that we are moving forward with this," he says. "It will accommodate a wide range of different ages and people."