Columbia Could See More Skate Parks in Future

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COLUMBIA - Taxpayers fund the Cosmopolitan Skate Park whether they use is or not, and now skaters in Columbia are lobbying for more skate parks and improvements to be made to the existing skate park.

Skaters' voices might be answered by the city's recently passed 2013 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan. Superintendent of Planning and Development Mike Synder said the plan acts as a wish list of things to be done in Columbia during the next ten years--if the funding is available.

Among other things in the plan, the expansion of the Cosmopolitan Skate Park and the addition of more skate parks around Columbia are included.

Parkside Skate Shop co-owner Christopher Bailey said not only is the location of Columbia's only skate park an issue, but improvements needs to be made at the existing location.

"The park here can be dangerously overcrowded," Bailey said. "If you go out there on a nice day, there is a lot of people whizzing around. The more participants skateboarding, the more facilities we need--or it starts to become dangerous."

Bailey also said that the park needs to have lights. During summer nights, Bailey said the park sees the most traffic, and skating without lights just poses one more safety issue.

The master plan includes a line item for the installation of skate park lights at the Cosmo Park skate park. This improvement is listed at $65,000. The plan also includes an expansion of the existing park to 25,000 square foot plaza and a 2,5000 square foot bowl.

The plan does not stop at just expanding and improving the existing park. It also includes the addition of more skate parks around Columbia. Douglass and Indian Hills Park each has a line item for a small skate facility with the price tag of $20,000 each.

Where does the money for these projects come from? 

 "Typically the amount of funding that is required to build a new skate park would be part of a park sales tax extension," Snyder said. "It would be a part of a ballot issue. We would have more public input, and identify an exact location of where it would occur. Then we would ask the voters if they want to fund that development in a specific location."

Snyder said as of now, a definite location has not be decided between Douglass, Indian Hills, or any other park.

Bailey and other skaters attended a Douglass Park input meeting to advocate for skate parks. One Cosmo skate park user, Elijah Tyler, said there should be more skate parks in Columbia. Not only do they provide a fun, recreational hobby, Tyler said, but they keep kids off the street and out of trouble.