A Skateboard Park for Emmaus?
Supporters Hope to Have a Proposal Before Council by March
Imagine, if you will, a small skateboard park near the basketball courts at Williams Street Playground, which is just across Ridge Street from Emmaus Public Library.
The park is used both by teenagers and adults, not only skateboarders but also bicycle stunt riders who participate in BMX: bicycle motor-cross.
The young daredevils finally have a place to enjoy their gravity-defying sports without trespassing on private property. And the rest of the community – a community that supported their vision -- comes to the park to admire their skill and daring.
Creating such a park will be a dream come true for a new group of adults and teen-agers, which calls itself the Emmaus Action Sports Association.
They would like to see it happen within two years.
They plan to incorporate as a non-profit organization, then seek government grants and corporate support to help pay for the park. They estimate even a modest skateboarding/BMX park will cost at least $250,000.
Actual construction only takes a couple of months, said Sean Cameron, vice president of the group, but "it probably will take a year to go through the red tape and get it finalized."
They intend to have a proposal, including an architect's plan for the park, ready to present to borough council by March.
They hope to get as much grant money committed as possible before going to council, to ease the financial burden on the borough.
They already have an architect on the team designing the park and he's also a skateboarder: Erich Hornung of David Hornung Architect Planner, Inc., of Allentown.
Hornung said he can have a design prepared to share with the group by its Feb. 8 meeting, as well as a better cost estimate.
One young man encouraged skateboarders to suggest features they want included in the design now, adding: "You'll be there every single day."
"We're going to get this park built," said a determined Lyle Richardson, who added he began organizing the group a few months back. "This is for bikers and skaters, not just skaters. They will be able to engage in these activities legally."
Richardson said efforts to create a skateboard park in Emmaus go back 20 years.
Emmaus came close to creating a skateboarding park around 2001, but it was an elaborate plan that would have cost up to $500,000, which was more than the borough could afford.
There are 13 milion skateboarders in the United States but only about 2,000 skateparks nationwide, according to the Tony Hawk Foundation, which advocates building quality public skateparks (www.tonyhawkfoundation.org). That means most of those 13 million are skating in the streets, which are far riskier than even the more challenging skateparks. And skateparks often appeal to young people who are not interested in more traditional sports, according to the foundation.
The new action sports group held a lightly attended monthly meeting Dec. 14 in Emaus Fire Co. No. 1 at 6th and Broad streets. Only about 20 people attended and at least six of them were officers and organizers.
Katie Gangewere, the group's president, said many of the skateboarders who are active in the organization were working at Bear Creek Mountain ski area near Macungie.
Those at the meeting discussed upcoming fund-raisers, the need to get more adults involved, plans for a Web site and the possibility of creating a skateboarding park that includes functional artistic elements that might increase eligibility for grants.
Treasurer Mike Hammer reported the group has $820.88, but more fund-raisers are planned, including the sale of T-shirts, a Jan. 15 Indoor Yard Sale & Craft Show at the fire company and a Feb. 12 Valentine's dance.
If you want to get involved in helping to make the group's dream come true, plan to attend its next meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 11 in Emaus Fire Co. No. 1 at 6th and Broad streets.