After a lengthy process of seeking a site for a proposed new skatepark in Merrill, the Park & Recreation Commission last week decided to leave the skatepark right where it is.
Citizen Heather O’Neill, who initiated the discussion of a new skatepark, expressed concerns with the current location related to safety. She had volunteered to head a fund raising campaign to finance a new facility.
In December, the Parks & Recreation Commission settled on a site that is currently a municipal parking lot between East Main Street and the Wisconsin River. The city’s Board of Public Works, however, did not approve of that location for a skatepark.
Last Wednesday, the Commission discussed the other sites which had previously been considered. All these locations would be within existing city parks. However, the Commission voted unanimously to leave the skate park at its currently location.
Commission member Dave Sukow stated that the commission is in favor of a new skatepark, but until someone donates a piece of land to build it on, there are no other locations to consider.
Following the meeting, O’Neill said she would be dropping plans for the Merrill Skatepark Initiative.
“It is my hope that the City of Merrill, together with the Park & Rec Commission will find a feasible solution, as the skatepark is in urgent need of replacement,” she said. “Given my persistence and many hours of effort, perhaps if nothing else, I have increased the awareness in this community and the City regarding the need for a new skatepark and the safety issues associated with the current location.”
Merrill Parks & Recreation Director Dan Wendorf said any plans for a new skatepark are off the table for now.
“Discussion centered on a location and obviously the initial push was for a new modern skatepark, which is something the Parks & Recreation Commission wholeheartedly supported,” Wendorf said. “The problem was finding a viable location that would satisfy both the skate park initiave and was something the commission was comfortable with.”
The commission may look at safety issues with the current site in the future, Wendorf indicated.
“That road at times can be busy,” he said. “There are things that should be done there to improve pedestrian safety.”
Wendorf noted that any improvements made would benefit not just skate park users, but all pedestrians in that area.