Interest in a project that was first considered in 2004 has been renewed by local supporters.
Support for a skate park has been growing in recent months.
April Jones, who has spoken about creating a skate park in Hoopeston at Hoopeston City Council meetings in recent months, recently spoke with The Chronicle about the efforts that are being made to make the park a reality.
Jones said the idea for the skate park was first presented in 2004 when the high school student council at the time had come up with the idea and went through the city to get the skate park going.
She said they were told that they’d have to raise the money for the park.
Jones said they presented a can fundraiser as well as a skate jam to raise money and interest in the park project.
While the raised a couple of thousand dollars for the project, Jones said the project was put aside.
“The ball was pretty much dropped,” she said. “There was really anything more that was done.”
Jones said the funds that were raised were earmarked by the city just for the skate park and they’ve been held by the city ever since.
While the student council in 2004 was the first to move forward with the project, Jones said there had been a group of a few skateboarders who attended a council meeting in 1999 and expressed their desire for a skate park in the city, but it didn’t go any further than that.
A renewed effort to revive the skate park project was brought to the council in 2013, but nothing came of that effort.
Jones took up the ball of the project and first spoke with the council about the project in August.
Jones had noticed over the past few years that there was a new generation of up-and-coming skateboarders in the city.
Last summer, she said she saw a group of these skateboarders set up their own skate park near the Vermilion Iron baseball field.
“They had named it, put up signs, even put up ‘No Trespassing’ to keep the trouble out,” she said. “These young boys did this themselves. They put all of these signs out to protect their space. And then they were told they couldn’t be there any more.”
Jones said the boys then dispersed out into the community, riding their skateboards on city sidewalks and using city property to do their tricks on curbs and steps.
“It made me really sad to see that these kids have a sport they enjoy, but don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.
Jones said the city has amenities for so many other sports in local parks, but nothing for skateboarders.
During the Aug. 3 meeting of the council, Jones spoke in the public comment section about the need for a skate park and went over some of the pros and cons of a skate park.
She said the pros are that it provides a a safe space for skateboarders, protects local government and private property, it promotes an active lifestyle and provides a destination location for skateboarders that may attract people to Hoopeston.
In the following meetings, Jones also brought several youths and their families to appear before the council to showcase the interest for a skate park. Jones thanked them for taking the time to attend the council meetings.
Jones encouraged anyone who supports the skate park to continue to keep coming to the council meetings.
“It’s a benefit all the way around,” she said. “Our community, surrounding communities, would have a great use for this skate park.”
Jones suggested the project to the council and they gave the green light to organize efforts to create the skate park.
Jones gathered a support group of families, skateboarders and BMX riders and they started coming to meetings to get organized.
She said the group meets once-a-month with an agenda set for each meeting.
Jones said the next step for the group was updating the council on their progress. She said they had 30 people at the first support group meeting and organized a communication list as well as came up with suggestions on names for proposed skate park.
Jones said they decided to start fresh on the fundraising efforts so that there’s no confusion when the support group makes plans and presents those plans to council.
Jones said the support group took part in National Sweetcorn Festival Grand Parade and also worked the carnival gate at the National Sweetcorn Festival from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. as part of a fundraiser.
She said they raised a specific percent of the sales that came through that gate on their day.
Jones said she was told they raised about $750 for the skate park during the day.
She said they also had a separate collection bucket set out for anyone who wanted to donate just to the park.
Jones said they raised a total of $720.87 from the collection bucket.
“I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who gave to that project,” she said.
The skate park project also benefitted from a lot party fundraiser the 112 Wine and Coffee Shoppe presented Sept. 26.
“It’s very kind of them to do this for our community and our kids,” she said.
According to a post on the 112 Wine and Coffee Shoppe’s Facebook page, the business raised $1,157 during the event which will be matched by Bricks and Ivy Sports for a total donation of $2,314 to help fund the skate park project.
Jones said the skate park support group is planning a big family fundraiser that will take place in March. She said more information about that fundraiser will be available closer to the event.
Jones said the next step for the group is to secure a location for the skate park. She said the group has made their suggestions to the city’s park committee on the council so those can be given further consideration.
She said they are also working on the design of the park so that once they get a location for the park they can start applying for the grant. She said they can’t start applying for grants until they have a location.
Jones said anyone interested in donating towards the skate park can do so by sending a check to Hoopeston City Hall. She said anyone doing so need to write “Skate Park” in the memo line of the check so that the money is earmarked specifically for the skate park.
She also encouraged anyone interested to attend the skate park support group meetings each month.
Jones said anyone interested in attending the meetings can learn more by calling her directly at 217-504-1335.
She said the meetings are presented monthly and the next will take place Oct. 11 from 6-7 p.m. at the shelter between the civic center and pool in McFerren Park. She said to check her Facebook change to see if there are any changes to the meetings.