Stanford, Lincoln County could discuss possibility of skate park

STANFORD — Local government officials may begin looking into the possibility of building a skate park after a Stanford grandmother brought attention to the lack of space for skateboarders.

Brenda McFerron told Stanford City Council members last week her grandsons and their friends have been "run out wherever they've been" trying to skateboard around town.

"They need a place to use their skateboards," she said. "These boys are good boys; they never done anything to get in trouble."

McFerron said the skateboarding children she knows are getting $25 tickets from police for skateboarding at places like the old mill on Mill Street.

"I would like to see something done about skateboarding because it does keep them out of trouble and they're not causing anybody else any trouble," she said.

City Council members were sympathetic to McFerron's position. Councilwoman Amy Hazlett said she has heard from other city residents who also want a skate park built and have said they'd be willing to contribute to fundraising efforts.

Councilman Eddie Carter said the idea of landing grant money to build a skate park is "worth exploring."

Lincoln County Magistrate David Faulkner, who represents much of Stanford, said the fiscal court had looked into building a skate park in 2007, but it was going to be prohibitively expensive.

"You're talking about a whole lot of money to do it and to do it right," Faulkner said. "You're talking about six-figure money to do it right and we just haven't had the money to do it."

But Faulkner said he thinks the fiscal court would be open to pursuing a "joint venture" with the city, where both entities might be able to apply for funding.

"We've got nothing to lose to at least look into it," he said. "If we can't, we can't. But if we could, it would be a great thing for (kids), for the city."

McFerron told city council members she knows of at least one organization — the Tony Hawk Foundation — that offers grants up to $25,000 to help build skate parks.

Stanford Police Chief Keith Middleton said under current law in Stanford, skateboards aren't allowed anywhere on "public grounds, sidewalks or streets."

While police officers don't actively pursue skateboarders, they do respond to complaints from residents about skateboarders and may fine them — or their parents if they're juveniles — appropriately, Middleton said.

"It's not something we go out and hunt," he said. "We got too much other stuff to deal with. They're not a high priority unless they become a problem for a resident."

Middleton said he thinks children could benefit an appropriate place to use their skateboards where they don't become liability issues for property owners.

"I think a skate park would help," he said. "I don't know how much interest there is in it."

Councilman Carter said previous discussions had focused on building a skate park at Veterans Park along U.S. 150 in north Stanford.

But Faulkner said Veterans Park is difficult to access for children thanks to U.S. 27, and it will only get more difficult to access after U.S. 27 is widened to four lanes.

A location closer to the center of town could be more accessible to skateboarders, he suggested.

Faulkner said he would talk to the other members of fiscal court about the city's interest in a skate park and find out what their thoughts are.

"I'd like to see it done myself," he said. "I know the kids would use it."