Columbia Council's budget includes $3,000 to study possibility of building a skating park Panel hears presentations from several youngsters, including a fifth-grader

March 11, 1997|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

The Columbia Council's $49 million spending plan for next year includes a small gift for the community's skateboarding and in-line skating enthusiasts.

Tucked away in the operating and capital budget is $3,000 to study construction of a skateboarding and in-line skating park in Columbia, the first step toward eventually building such a park.

The money was set aside after the council heard presentations from a group of Columbia youths, including Thunder Hill Elementary School fifth-grader Philip Valle and several students from Dunloggin Middle School.

"Four years ago, we had looked at a skating park, but the board didn't have any input from kids who wanted to use it," council member Joe Merke, who represents Town Center. "Now that we heard from some students and they've told us what they're looking for, I'm pretty confident we can find a way to build it."

The students have been lobbying for construction of a skating park as part of what's known in the Howard schools as a "Type III" gifted-and-talented project, in which students do an independent investigation on a topic.

"It's exciting that we've gotten them to study the idea," Philip, the fifth-grader, said. "We're having an impact on the process."

The students say they hope the park would be a smooth place to skate with some obstacles -- stairs, railings, jumps -- for tricks.

The only other area skating parks are in Silver Spring, in Montgomery County, and the Baltimore County neighborhood of Lansdowne. The students say the model for their proposal is the Silver Spring park, which charges a $5 entry fee and requires liability waivers. Such a park could earn a profit or at least break even in Columbia, they say.

The $3,000 will help the council decide whether to build a park and also choose a site in Columbia, Merke said. It is possible the skating park could be added to the SportsPark being planned for Harper's Choice village, or it could be built in another village.

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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