City Open Space Director Asks City Council OK To Proceed With Skatepark At Riverwalk Despite County Opposition

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

City Open Spaces Director Travis Kazmierzak is asking the City Council to support his plan to build a new $1.8 million Skate Park at the Tennessee Riverwalk, though the county opposes the idea.

Mr. Kazmierzak said the Riverwalk is the top choice by far by skateboarders for the facility.

He said the location is an open field next to Chattanooga State. He said the field is seldom used.

Mr. Kazmierzak said when he discussed that site with County Parks Director Tom Lamb, he asked him to explore four other Riverwalk locations instead. He said Mr. Lamb said the county had plans to put the field into use.

The county has long operated the section of the Riverwalk near Amnicola Highway.

Mr. Kazmierzak said he then explored the other sites and focused on Riverpoint near South Chickamauga Creek at Lost Mound Driver.

However, he said he was then asked by Mr. Lamb to meet with his boss, Lee Norris, county general services administrator. He said Mr. Norris eventually declined to meet with him, after passing on that the Riverwalk was designed for passive use and was not an appropriate location for a Skate Park.

Mr. Kazmierzak said he refocused on the initial location by Chattanooga State after learning that it is owned by the city alone and is not jointly owned with the county. He said he sent a letter to the county on Oct. 23 saying the city planned to proceed to build at the site.

He said the site has parking available as well as restrooms.

A problem with the Skate Park built 20 years ago by the city next to Finley Stadium is that there is a charge of $10 to $15 to park when there are events going on at the stadium or pavilion, he said.

The City Council was told that the city is ready to seek proposals for designing the new Skate Park. That is estimated to cost $250,000. It would take 6-7 months to design it. 

Mr. Kazmierzak said the design process has been awaiting site selection because there is a desire to design for the specific site.

He said 14 sites in all were considered.

Mr. Kazmierzak said the facility would also be designed for use by rollerskaters. He said skateboarding is a popular sport and is now a part of the Olympics. He said studies show that keeping young people active helps keep them out of trouble.

The planning money has been approved, but not the construction funds.

Councilman Jerry Mitchell, who built the original Skate Park when he was city recreation director, asked Mr. Kazmierzak if he had further explored the reasons why "our partners of 35 years on the Riverwalk" were in opposition. Mr. Kazmierzak said Mr. Norris cited the original purpose of the Riverwalk as being passive activity. Mr. Kazmierzak said he looked at the original language and it referred to both active and passive.

Councilman Mitchell, while praising the work in pushing for a New Skate Park, said initial Riverpark funders had wanted assurance that it be passive use. 


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