Kellogg teenagers raising money for proposed skateboarding park
Jennifer Howell is the mother of a 15-year-old skateboarder in Kellogg, and she says there’s a lack of safe concrete in the small town for skaters to grind. But she, parents of skaters and nearly 20 Kellogg teens have banded together to propose a place to skate.
Howell is one of two treasurers in the group “Kellogg Skate Park.” They are currently in the planning stages of designing and raising money for a local replacement to the skating facility at the now defunct Newton Aces Teen Club, which was closed by the Newton YMCA in 2011.
“What we have is a lack of recreation for kids in Kellogg,” she said. “The biggest problem is when Aces closed in Newton, and now they don’t have a regular meeting place.”
The proposed skate park would be in an open area of Holmdahl Park and would be usable for skateboarders, BMX riders and inline skaters. Howell said the group is currently in talks with an unnamed potential buyer of the closed Midwest Manufacturing plant to use part of the property for the skating facility, but all plans are in the preliminary stages. The plant is adjacent to Holmdahl Park.
Howell said she and other Kellogg parents would like to see local teens stay in town, and the group hopes with an elaborate skate park, the kids won’t be traveling for entertainment. But the stigma that often is associated with skaters is no less prevalent in the small Jasper County community of 626.
“The problem is they’re skating around town, and they are getting in trouble,” Howell said. “They find a place to skate, and they get run off. It’s a small community, and some people mistake them for being mischievous when they are just looking for a place to play.”
The group has had several meetings and has started a website to share testimonials about the need for the facility, share videos and donate to the group. Fundraisers are currently under way for the park, including a pop can drive. City officials also have initiated a “drop can policy” in Holmdahl Park that allows park users to throw cans to be picked up and redeemed by “Kellogg Skate Park.” Howell said there is also a can drop currently at the Kellogg water tower to raise money for the park.
Kellogg Mayor Scott Keenan said the city supports the construction of the facility but is holding off on appropriating funds until officials see a definitive commitment from residents and local businesses.
“We’re in full support of it,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “Anything that gives the kids something constructive to do, we’ll support. But from a funding standpoint, we’re taking a back seat until we see what type of funding the group comes up with.”
But during their fundraiser efforts, Howell said “we’re finding out that it’s quite expensive” to build a facility that’s adequate. The group has written more than 700 letters to city officials and grant programs trying to collect the funding. The city council approved the project during an April meeting but has not pledged a dollar amount contribution yet.
Keenan said that the proposed design could possibly run between $20,000 to $30,000. The city has Tax Increment Financing funds available that have been discussed in the skate park planning, but Kellogg is facing street repairs and the need for a new city maintenance building, which Keenan said will take priority over a recreational facility.
A private softball tournament is being held this weekend in Holmdahl Park to continue raising funds. For more information on the groups efforts, visit www.kelloggskatepark.com or call Jennifer Howell at (641) 275-7247.
Mike Mendenhall can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 422 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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