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Skate park catching air

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By Brent Schanding

A Shelbyville skate park will likely debut in the first quarter of 2008, park officials said Thursday, in what will be the culmination of more than a year of activism and fundraising efforts by a group of middle and high school skaters.

Dee Maynard, a parks employee and spokeswoman for a local activist group known as the SkatePark Advocates, reported that more than $88,000 has already been committed to the skate park's construction.

Most of that came from matching grants and several large corporate donors, including CUB bank, Alcan Packaging, Wal-Mart, Hardee's and the nonprofit Moses Ruben fund, Maynard said.

A $5,000 national grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation was announced Thursday by Executive Director of Shelbyville/Shelby County Parks and Recreation Clay Cottongim. Shelbyville was one of only 29 skate park projects in the nation selected for the honor, he said. The Hawk grant will go toward completing construction efforts.

The old swimming pool site off Washington Street at Daniel Field has already been repaved and will be equipped for local skaters with ramps and other obstacles.

"We'll be working with the guys over winter break for the final bid specifications for the project," Maynard said. "Of course we're looking to the community for folks who want to step up to the plate and put the icing on this wonderful cake we have."

In addition to these numerous donations and grants for the skate park project, Maynard said the skaters hope to raise at least $5,000 more to construct a top-notch facility.

"For a truly great park we need about $95,000," she said.

But Maynard said the group has already raised a tremendous amount of money in a short time and should be proud of their fundraising efforts.

"More important than money, these kids have raised awareness and goodwill," Maynard said. "That's been the most important factor."

Maynard, the volunteer tennis coordinator for the local parks, became involved with the SkatePark Advocates after she was forced to kick a group of teens off the park's tennis courts.

For more than a year, the SkatePark Advocates have taken their pro-skating message to the streets by holding demonstrations, competitions and rallies and lobbying local government for support.

The skaters have also been selling self-designed T-shirts, bearing bold logos like, "Get Me Off the Streets." The shirts can be found at Main Street Bikes, 545 Main Street. They cost $12. Proceeds go to the construction of the city skate park.