By Heather O’Neill, Merrill
Hello. My name is Heather O’Neill and I have begun a community project that I have named the Merrill Skatepark Initiative. The main idea of this project is to remove the current skatespot which is across from the Merrill T.B. Scott Library and to build a modern, concrete skatepark in Stange’s Park, on the site of the old swimming pool.
The new skatepark would be as large and filled with as many features as can be funded… not something mediocre or ok… an awesome new skatepark. This skatepark will be a multi-use park as well, to be used by skate boarders, BMX bike riders, scooter riders, in-line skaters, what have you. This skatepark will be for people of all ages and walks of life… in other words, a real community park. In addition, the park will be designed and built, first and foremost for recreation, but also as a new sports venue to attract skate and other competitions, be they pro tours, local or state events.
Our new skatepark will be an attraction for everyone, near and far. I truly believe that a modern skatepark would not only be a great sports destination but would also be a very progressive addition to the city of Merrill, which as you all know, has been working hard to revitalize itself.
You may be asking yourselves WHY do I feel so strongly about the Merrill Skatepark Initiative? Well, my husband and I moved to Merrill from San Diego in October of 2006…(no, we have NOT regretted our decision as it is much more difficult to make a difference in a big city than a small one.) Anyway, one of the first things I noticed after we moved here was the current Merrill skatespot. Coming from a part of the country that had numerous skateparks, I saw that ours was NOT up to modern standards. In addition, our skatespot is too small and is located on a busy main road, being difficult to access, and having no direct crosswalk or designated parking. Furthermore, it has only one feature… ramps.
I am sure that there are many of you that have noticed the same issues with our skatespot and would like to see things change. I believe that with all of the positive changes that have happened and are happening in Merrill, that NOW is the time to build our new Merrill Community Skatepark.
With the changes in Merrill city government in the past few years, the city leaders have definitely seen a need for upgrading the city and I have been pleased to see the many positive changes that have occurred in Merrill recently. My 9-year old son is so excited about the new aquatic center at the MARC and I am sure that we will be spending a great deal of time there this summer with many of you, so let’s keep the ball rolling with other positive projects such as the Merrill Skatepark Initiative.
I am willing to do much hard work toward making the new skatepark a reality, but I can’t do it alone… I need your help! There are many steps toward this goal; from making phone calls and fund raising to the actual design and building of the park. The skatepark will be professionally designed, but the design will include the input of those who will actually be using the park… people of all ages. I would like our new skatepark to be a sporting facility that will be used by many, for many years to come, so it must be designed and built correctly for use now and into the future.
I have already visited and photographed the other skateparks within Northcentral Wisconsin to get an idea of what other communities have done, which tells me that I want our skatepark to be even better. In other words, a lot of time and effort will go into this project to do it right. I have also spoken to various friends, neighbors and city leaders in order to gain their support and thus far, I have met with very positive feedback from those in Merrill. It seems that the Merrill Skatepark Initiative is something that others feel is a good and worthwhile project to proceed with… one that has the potential to benefit the whole community.
In addition, when the design/engineering of the skatepark is complete, I feel very strongly that local businesses should be contracted to supply the materials and for the construction of the park. The Merrill Skatepark Initiative is a project that I hope will attract the interest and support of the entire community; residents, businesses, youth programs, city government, Parks & Recreation… all of us.
As you read this, I am currently hard at work, creating a presentation, which I will give before the Parks & Recreation monthly meeting. This meeting will take place on July 6 at 4:15 p.m., in the basement of city hall. It is my hope that other supporters of the initiative will join me at this meeting. If that is not possible, please write a letter in show of your support to the Parks Dept; c/o Heather O’Neill W6725 Edward Dr., Merrill WI 54452.
During this July 6 meeting, I will be doing my best to convince them that the Merrill Skatepark Initiative is a project that people want to happen… the Parks Commission may be much more apt to approve the new skatepark if they know that I am not alone! Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting or to write a letter showing support… kids, teens and adults… if you want this to happen let them know! Kids and teens, tell your parents about this and ask for their support and involvement.
The average age group that uses skateparks is between 6 and 25; let me hear from you! I can be reached at home 715-536-5974 ors via email at email@example.com. If you are someone who has good knowledge of skateparks and could offer helpful ideas in the design of this park, I want to hear from you as well! The Merrill Skatepark Initiative, like any community project, needs the support of many if it is to succeed.
Our new skatepark is something that I would like to see become a reality as soon as possible—not to drag on for years to come. I can’t wait to drive around the corner to Stange’s Park and see lots of people having fun using the Merrill Community Skatepark! It will take a lot of hard work on the part of many, but I truly believe that together we WILL make it happen. Community involvement is something that is so important to us all, and I, for one, am more than willing to see this project through to completion and beyond, so please join me in this new, exciting endeavor. I thank you for reading my editorial and hope to hear from many of you soon!