Ann Arbor Skatepark project will move forward with $300K state grant
Supporters of the Ann Arbor Skatepark initiative have good reason to rejoice today, as it now looks like the project will move forward.
The nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark announced it has received a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for the construction of a permanent skate park amenity at Veterans Memorial Park on the city's west side.
The $300,000 state grant, combined with more than $100,000 in donations raised from private contributors, gives the group all the matching funds it needs to unlock a $400,000 challenge grant from the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.
"This is a big deal," said City Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, who called today's grant announcement a "big win" for the city of Ann Arbor.
The city helped the group apply for the grant.
Rosencrans said the effort faced a Jan. 1 deadline for both the county matching funds and the donation of the land for the facility by the city of Ann Arbor. Having met the requirements for both commitments, he said, the project is now sure to be constructed.
"We are truly grateful to our donors and government partners for making this project a reality," he said. "This is a great day for the residents of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County who will receive a first-class recreational amenity thanks to a community-wide collaboration that has touched all levels of participation."
The idea for an Ann Arbor skate park has been around since at least 2005, but the group struggled to raise the $1.1 million needed for the project.
In addition to funds for construction, the group has been raising money for future maintenance costs. Rosencrans said the group now has enough to cover two years of maintenance, and private donations will continue to be sought for the maintenance endowment.
Donation opportunities are available through the purchase of skate park merchandise, personalized engraved bricks to be installed at the park, bake sales, special events and direct donations, which can be made at www.a2skatepark.org.
Hohnke said he'e been working with the skate park group and Kirk Profit, the city's lobbyist in Lansing, to win state funding for the project.
Hohnke called the timing "brilliant" and said he'd be surprised if the project didn't break ground sometime in 2012.
"It's going to be such a big benefit for not only the city, but the county as a whole, to bring a world-class skate park to the west side of Ann Arbor," he said, estimating the skate park will attract visitors from hundreds of miles away.
He noted the city, which donated the land for the project, will own the skate park. He said that's about a $1 million asset for the city, and it started with positive energy from people in the community who realized the need for such an amenity.
"It's just a really cool example of folks in the community kind of taking hold of their community and really effecting positive change," he said.
It remains up in the air whether the city will directly contribute any money toward the effort, but Hohnke said he thinks the city should be a financial partner.
He noted the city used to budget money several years ago to provide maintenance for a small skating amenity, including ramps, at Buhr Park, but that no longer exists.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.