Backers want skateboard park, even if the CA doesn't make a profit

October 24, 1997|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

Supporters of a skateboard park in Harper's Choice village say the Columbia Association should build one even if it doesn't make a profit.

They say the CA builds basketball and tennis courts that don't make a profit and that at least half of Columbia's 13,000 children ages 12 to 18 are skateboarders.

Last night, the advocates got support from Chick Rhodehamel, who oversees Columbia's open space. "Tot lots are something we provide for children to use and there's no fee," he told the Columbia Council. "With basketball courts and tennis courts also, we pay for them and they don't bring in a profit. So the [skateboard park] is an amenity as well."

Rhodehamel said the park, which would be open year-round, would have 13 ramps for skateboarders to use for tricks.

If the CA charged $5 to $7 for admission, it might lose as much as $27,500 a year, Rhodehamel said, and if it charged $3 to $5, it might lose $40,500.

Skateboarders say the need for a park overrides potential losses.

"We can't skateboard anywhere around here without people looking at us like we're weirdos," said John Fisher, 24, of Ellicott City. "The park will give young adults someplace to go instead of to the mall."

Council members said they would look into limiting the park to daylight use and giving CA lien payers a discount.

Some Harper's Choice residents said they were concerned about putting the park in the village, where a $2.8 million Sports-Park with batting cages and a miniature golf course is being built. In May, the Columbia Council voted to delay putting an ice rink in the center.

"Until we have plans for the ice rink, it's premature to put anything up," said Thomas Forno, the Harper's Choice village board president. "I wouldn't go slicing up that piece of property without having the plan for the whole thing."

Also last night, the council voted to reduce the licensing fee it charges Howard County General Hospital to use Symphony Woods for its annual holiday light show, Symphony of Lights. The 3-year-old fund-raiser has faced increasing competition from other light shows in the area, and ticket revenues have fallen.

The council also voted to extend by a month the deadline for an audit report on the CA's purchasing records. The audit is being conducted by Washington-based Raffa & Associates P.C., and the report is now due Dec. 1.

Pub Date: 10/24/97

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