A local skate park in Pekin is off limits and has been all season, because it's falling apart and the money isn't there to make repairs, but the community that uses the space, says they aren't giving up so easily.
Emerson Wozniak is an avid skateboarder. He was among the individuals at the public meeting. "Usually if we lose skateboarding, that means we lose a right of passion and skateboarding's been in my life for years and I'd love to see it grow more in this community that we have." Wozniak shared.
During that meeting, held Thursday night at MIller Senior center in Pekin, parents, Pekin Park staff, skateboarders and supporters of the 'Mineral Springs Skate Park' gathered to find ways to keep the area afloat.
As of now, the wooden ramps and structures are closed because park officials have declared them too worn down and unsafe.
Without the money to replace the estimated $120,000 park, which officials say was built in 2001, access has been restricted.
The Park's Executive Director, Cameron Bettin says there aren't any talks of permanently closing, which is why they asked people to come and ask questions about possible options to save the space or offer suggestions on what they want.
"I'd donate as much money as I could. I'd ask everyone in my family to donate money to possibly help this park." said Wozkiak.
A parent from the meeting explained there's more to their efforts than just preserving a place for skateboarders to learn new moves. Tamara Clinch says her son has gained an appreciation for park police, nature and developed friendships.
"It gives the children a safe place to ride. It's patrolled by the park police .The children get to interact with other kids that are interested in the same things they are." said Clinch, she added that she and other meeting attendees are ready to roll up their sleeves and do grassroots fundraising or whatever it takes to keep the skate park running.
Bettin says he's grateful for the overwhelming input from the public and feels the meeting went well. He explains the next steps are to schedule a potential follow-up meeting and brief the Park District board on all the input they received.
Bettin also confirmed, after a suggestion offered, that there's a strong possibility they Park District can section off the unsafe areas and allow skaters to use half the space, as an interim compromise.
Here's some of the questions from the meeting and the Pekin Park District's response.
Q: Is the Pekin Park District Willing to accept donations?
A: Yes, They can be made directly to the Park Foundation so they're allocated for the skate park.
Q: Will the Park District request grants to assist with funding.
Q: Are volunteers able to help expedite the process or rebuilding the skate park?
A: Volunteers will be allowed in some capacities, but 'how' has not been made clear.
Q: If rebuilt or revamped, can new material be used for the park, instead of wood?
A: Yes. Park officials will consider metal or concrete as a sturdier, longer lasting alternative.
Q: Could interested parties host a benefit to raise money?
A: Yes, if a group would like to take initiative and bring a proposal or ideas to the board, they will consider that option.
Q: Are park officials willing to get rid of the safety rules?
A: Park District will talk to their insurance company and discuss the possibility of making the park a 'Skate At Your Own Risk' facility.
Q: Can public be a part of the new designs, if or when that time comes?
A: Yes, public input is welcomed and appreciated.