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Posted on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Ann Arbor seeking state grants for skatepark project, upgrades at Argo and Gallup parks

By Ryan J. Stanton


The concept for the proposed Ann Arbor Skatepark. The city will issue an RFP for the actual design.

Courtesy of Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark

The Ann Arbor City Council on Monday threw its support behind three separate grant applications for construction of a skatepark at Veteran's Memorial Park, improvements to the Gallup Canoe Livery, and upgrades to the boat launches at Gallup and Argo parks.

The city is seeking a total of $900,000 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment — or $300,000 for each project, city officials said.

The Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark has struggled to raise the $1 million it needs for the skatepark. Washtenaw County's Parks and Recreation Commission has pledged up to $400,000 in matching funds if the skatepark committee can raise other funds.

"The project mission is to provide a free, public, concrete skatepark as a permanent resource for residents in the Ann Arbor area," Amy Kuras, a city landscape architect, wrote in a memo to council members, noting the city has designated a parcel of land for the skatepark.

"The city is not required to provide any direct funding for the skatepark," she added. "However, the city has continued to assist the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark in their efforts to raise funds to build the skatepark. Therefore, staff is proposing to apply for this grant as MDNRE awards grants to the local units of government only."

The Ann Arbor Skatepark Street Team is holding a bake sale on Saturday from noon until 3 p.m. at Arbor Brewing Co.'s Tap Room at 114 E. Washington St. in downtown Ann Arbor. Anyone interested in contributing to the bake sale can contact

Kuras noted in her memo that Gallup Park is one of the most popular destinations in Washtenaw County, and the livery is the largest in Michigan.

The level of use at Gallup has increased tremendously over the years, such that the current facilities are inadequate, Kuras said. She said a meeting room at Gallup has poor ventilation, way-finding signs are unclear, and much of the facility is not barrier-free.

The proposed improvements would enable the livery to expand programming for users with disabilities, including barrier-free paths to the docks, as well as barrier-free docks and fishing facilities. Other proposed upgrades include expansion and modification of the patio area, sliding glass doors for the meeting room, redesign of the park entry, improved way-finding signs and upgrades to the heating system and lighting to improve energy efficiency.

Other upgrades at Gallup and Argo also are needed as the launches at both sites no longer meet state specifications, Kuras said.

Matching funds in the amount of $300,000 for the Gallup livery and $100,000 for the boat launches are available from the park maintenance and capital improvements millage.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

I have been waiting for this park since i was in 7th grade. i cant wait! also hours from 4pm to 8pm because kids will skip school? hah! Im 22 i don't goto school let me play! I have been putting money in this fund since i was 13. ill be happy the day this pays off.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

Thank you Ryan Stanton for posting the status of donations for the skateboard park. I am not surprised that, in the ten months since the announcement that donations were being sought, the skateboard park fund has received only $60,000 towards the $1,000,000 construction cost. I am appalled that those desiring a skateboard park want to have $300,000 from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund diverted to their cause instead of using it for maintenance of our existing parks (including perhaps the financially trouble Huron golf course). And apparently the skateboard enthusiasts want a grant from the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor that would otherwise be designated for "Helping Kids Succeed" which is the focus of their Community Allocations Grant program. That money could be used for after school education programs targeting at risk students. Shameful!


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Keep up the good work Diana Kern!

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

For those curious about the fundraising efforts, here's part of an e-mail I received from Diana Kern, treasurer/development chair for the skatepark group: "Our build/design funds are being held with the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. To date we have raised approximately $60,000 in cash. This money is held at accounts at AAACF. Additionally, we are working on pledges that are not yet signed that total approximately $70,000 more. We have applied to the Tony Hawk Foundation for a grant this spring and await notice ($20,000). We are completing a grant application with the City of Ann Arbor this week for a request from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund ($300,000). This has been a combined effort lead by Amy Kuras, the Landscape Architect for City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation with support of City Council and with help from members of our nonprofit group. And, we are completing an application for a grant from Rotary Club of Ann Arbor through their "Helping Kids Succeed" which is the focus of their Community Allocations Grant program. We are looking at many other grant opportunities and thinking about local philanthropists that might support our efforts!"


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

What are the plans for caring for the skatepark during the winter? What about maintenance and repair once the ice damages the concrete or even the slow erosion of the structures by boards themselves? Not that all skaters are scofflaws, but things will graffitti and vandalism be dealt with?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Part Three (conclusion) In regards to proper supervision for the use of the skateboard park attention should be directed towards establishing hours of usage. Since the skateboard park will be used mostly by minors the hours of operation should exclude the time when students should be at school. Therefore, during the regular school days I suggest that park operational hours be limited to 4 pm-to-8 pm or dusk (whichever comes first). On weekend, holidays and during school recesses for the spring and summer, skateboard usage hours can be more liberal, possibly 10 am-to-8 pm or dusk (whichever comes first). The skateboard park should probably be closed from December through March because of cold and wet weather and whenever the weather is inclement. In order to assure safety practices at the skateboard park and to monitor use by appropriate youths, personnel should be hired selectively as supervisors. Those hired should have no criminal record and agree to not smoke, not drink alcohol and not use drugs while on duty (since they need to remain alert and may be viewed as role models). Prior experience with skateboarding may be useful. Several individuals should be hired and probably on part-time basis since weekly hours of supervision will vary from 40 hours to 70 hours. Each supervisor will probably work 20-to-40 hours a week for eight months of the year when the skateboard park is open. Having several employees will allow backup for illness or other exigencies and for turn-over. I do not know what wage will be appropriate for the park supervisor positions. Besides the $1 million needed to construct the concrete skateboard park, how will supervisor salaries, maintenance costs and liability insurance (if available) be financed?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

Part Two (continued) Regarding the overall risks of injury from skateboarding, please read the following position paper about skateboarding produced by the American Academy of Orthopedics and which is found at the following URL site: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The article tells you that skateboarding injuries cause about 50,000 visits to emergency departments and 1500 children and adolescents to be hospitalized. (Source: AAP, March 2002. ) In order to avoid injuries, the article suggests children under age 5 years old should never ride a skateboard. Furthermore, children aged 6 to 10 years old need close supervision from an adult or trustworthy adolescent whenever they ride a skateboard. The article reviews safety gear that should be worn including fitted helmets, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, and shoes.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:13 p.m.

Part One Building a $1 million skateboard park for the use of less than 500 youths ages 13 -17 (per 2004 survey) is wasteful. The inability of the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark to raise the money on its own attests to the paucity of interest. But the construction of a skateboard park presents other issues and concerns, as follows: One concern is that skateboarders who do not live within walking distance of Veterans Park will have to drive (if they are licensed) or many who do not drive will have to use buses or other alternative transportation to get to the skateboard park. Even youths who would like to use the skateboard park may find it inconvenient to visit frequently. The number of skateboarders who actually use the skateboard park may be less than will justify the expense of building and maintaining it. I doubt that any other location will be any better if the homes of skateboarders are dispersed throughout the community. No effort has been expended yet to identify all potential skateboard park users and where they live. For safety reasons I would expect that the park will have to be fenced in and have a lockable gate. The skateboard park should not be open for use when not attended by a supervisor. Supervision is required in order to guarantee civility among participants, to discourage highly risky skateboarding behavior, to prevent drug/alcohol use and sales, to assure use of proper safety equipment and to prevent child abuse and abduction. An unsupervised park could leave the City open for liability if injuries or other mishaps occur among users, especially with unattended minors. By the way, will parental attendance be required for youths under a age 10 as recommended? If so, a supervisor will be required to enforce the rule.

scott williams

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

Am I the only one that finds it disappointing that firefighters and police are facing layoffs, the schools must make draconian cuts, the county, city and state are facing massive structural deficets and somewhere there is still $300,000 for a SKATE PARK. What the heck is going on???


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

Scott I agree with everything you wrote except: &quot;the schools must make draconian cuts&quot; They are being asked to trim the fat, nothing cruel about that.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

The usual answer ever time someone posts &quot;why is money being spent on X, when we don't have enough for Y.&quot; There's a law restricting it to a specific use. Assuming I'm understanding where the city is applying, this program reserves specific state revenues for specific state expenditures. In particular, revenues from the sale of state oil and gas leases are then given out by the state via a merit-based program to build parks and other recreational facilities. The law has been around for a long time and makes a certain amount of intuitive sense (oil/gas mining damages the environment, building parks restores that balance). All the money will be given out according to the program. If the city doesn't apply for it, another city will get it. The only other option would be for the state to change the law. Personally, I hope they don't. This program does a lot to contribute to the attractiveness of the state and makes regular long term investments in our parks and recreation infrastructure that contribute to the economic vitality of the state.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

How much have the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark raised thus far? It might be good to give us all some figures than merely pointing out that their struggling? Maybe once we have a better understanding of their fiscal position, we could comment or offer suggestions? Nice illustration.