The Greater Rochester Skate Park Leadership Advisory Team is proposing to put a skate park in Jaycee Park.

The Greater Rochester Skate Park Leadership Advisory Team is proposing to put a skate park in Jaycee Park.

Image provided by Cathy Daldin

City sets public hearing for proposed Rochester skate park

‘When your city doesn’t have a skate park, your city is a skate park’

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 7, 2023


ROCHESTER — The Greater Rochester Skate Park Leadership Advisory Team, also known as SPLAT, hopes to bring a skate park to downtown Rochester, but first, it needs funding.

SPLAT — which includes former Rochester Mayor Cathy Daldin, South Street Skateshop owners Von and Linda Gallaher, and local residents Annalee Paul and Emily Muhlenbeck — has been working on the plans for the skate park since 2014, following the closing of the former indoor South Street Skatepark.

SPLAT had initially proposed a 22,000-square-foot skate park at Jaycee Park that would cost about $800,000 to design and build, and an additional $5,600 per year to maintain, according to a 2017 estimate by Spohn Ranch Skateparks, but the group has since scaled down its plans after failing to get grant funding.

Daldin said new proposed plans would maintain the current baseball diamond and basketball courts at Jaycee Park, while adding in a much smaller aboveground “plaza-style” skate park.

“We thought it would be much easier and cost-effective to keep the park behind (the ballfield) and scale it down,” Daldin said. “We still want a good-sized park, but let’s be realistic — this would be a better project to either try to get a grant for or raise money for.”

The public will get a chance to learn more about the latest skate park plans, and weigh in on the proposal, during a public hearing June 12 at the Rochester City Council meeting.

Daldin said the public hearing is necessary in order for the group to apply for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Spark grant — which is designed to help local communities create, renovate and redevelop public recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, especially those communities whose economies and health were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of $65 million in coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds was made available through Public Act 53 of 2022. Approximately $14.2 million in individual Spark grant amounts — ranging from $100,000 to $1 million — was awarded in February 2023, with nearly $23 million to be awarded in September 2023. The remaining $27.5 million will be awarded in “opportunity communities” — which are identified by the state through a blend of local health and economic information, combined with a lack of access to nearby public park space — by the end of 2023. State officials recently moved the grant’s previous October application deadline up to the end of June, moving the project forward earlier than expected.

Daldin said the public hearing is also a chance for the community to show council there is enough support for the city to move forward with applying for the state Spark grant that would, if awarded, assist in funding the project.

“What we really need is people to say, ‘Yes, this is something that we really need in this community.’ It’s something that we’ve been trying to do for the last 8-10 years, so we want people to say to (the council), ‘We want this.’ ‘We need this,’” Daldin said.

At press time, over 860 people had signed a petition created by supporters to “Give (the) Rochester Community a Skatepark.”

“When your city doesn’t have a skate park, your city is a skate park,” said Daldin.

Construction on the skate park, if approved by the Rochester City Council, would not begin until SPLAT has raised all the funds necessary to complete the project.

The group has established an account with the Community Foundation of Greater Rochester and is looking into several potential grants through the Tony Hawk Foundation, as well as federal, state and local government. A fundraiser for the project is also planned for September at the Rochester Community House.

City Manager Nik Banda said the new skatepark design is “a lot less intrusive.”

“It could be a good addition to our city, and we support them trying to get these dollars through the Spark grant,” said Banda.

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Salvia expressed concerns about reserving city parkland for the skate park prior to the completion of an update to the city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan later this year.

Mayor Stuart Bikson questioned if the suggested grant wording would require the city to provide the land and agree to maintain the skate park once it’s built, which he said council never agreed to do.

Banda said the city isn’t required to accept any grants if the application is accepted, and the public hearing does not commit the city to give up any land or funding.

“It can’t hurt for them to ask. I think it’s a longshot, but we’re not putting ourselves in any jeopardy to commit any dollars,” he said.

He told council the public hearing will allow members to hear more about the plans from the SPLAT group and see if any residents are even interested in the project.

“We told them, ‘If you want to prove your point, bring your supporters to explain to the council why we would give up a piece of our park and who is this for?’ That’s what the public hearing is for. They need to come and convince us that it’s a good idea,” Banda said. “Even if we were convinced that that little piece of land was good for us, until it’s funded, we’re not committing to it.”

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