Ann Arbor Skatepark initiative gets $25K boost from local couple
The Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark announced the gift today with hopes it will inspire others in the community to contribute toward construction of a permanent skate park at Veterans Memorial Park, where the city of Ann Arbor has donated land for the project.
"We're absolutely thrilled by this donation and we hope it provides momentum for other donors in the community," said Scott Rosencrans, project liaison for the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark. "Local governments are doing their part to pitch in for the effort and the key element now is for private philanthropy to make up the difference."
Courtesy of Dug Song
A successful software developer, Song played a key role in the development of University of Michigan spinoff Arbor Networks, which was sold in 2010 to Tektronix Communications, a subsidiary of Washington, D.C.-based conglomerate Danaher Corp.
After a brief stint with Barracuda Networks in Ann Arbor, Song co-founded a startup called Duo Security. He also is a founder of a nonprofit called A2Geeks, which runs various meetups for technologists and entrepreneurs in the area.
Additionally, he is a founder of the Tech Brewery, a high-tech business incubator based in Ann Arbor.
"Dug has been a skateboarder for many years and we want our kids to enjoy the benefits of this safe and amazing sport that encourages creativity, camaraderie, and self-expression," Linh Song, a social worker in Ann Arbor, said in a statement today.
"We encourage every family in the community to join us by sharing whatever resources they are able in order to move this project forward," she said.
When she and her husband started planning their family, Linh Song said they decided they didn't want to live in a city without a skate park. Now that they have two small children, she said they're more motivated than ever to see the project become a reality.
According to ConcreteDisciples.com, there are more than 80 skate parks in Michigan, but not one in Ann Arbor. The Ann Arbor skate park would be a free public amenity.
Rosencrans estimated recently that 5,000 to 7,000 people from Washtenaw County — mostly children — would be served by a skate park. He noted the importance of skateboarding is emphasized in Ann Arbor's 2011-2015 Parks & Recreation Open Space Plan.
Area skateboarding enthusiasts have been working for a few years now on raising money to develop a skate park on a 30,000-square-foot section of Veterans Memorial Park.
The Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark officially became a nonprofit corporation on Sept. 14, 2010. That's when fundraising efforts shifted into high gear, but the group has struggled to raise the $1 million it needs for the project.
Washtenaw County's Parks and Recreation Commission has pledged up to $400,000 in matching funds if the group can raise other funds. Diana Kern, treasurer and development chair, said in late June the group had raised about $75,000.
So far, the city hasn't committed any funds directly to the project, but it did agree earlier this year to help the skate park group apply for government grants. The city now is seeking $300,000 in grant funding from the state and expects to hear back by November.
Rosencrans said the group is moving aggressively toward a goal of making sure it has $100,000 in its build fund before it releases a request for proposals on the project. He estimated the group has somewhere between $85,000 and $90,000 in its build fund now, with another $12,000 to 15,000 in its maintenance fund and $1,200 to $1,500 in its operating fund.
Rosencrans said the language for the skate park RFP is ready to go and has been approved by all the project's partners. He's hoping it can be released soon.
An agreement between the city and the skate park group from December 2008 states that construction must commence by Jan. 1, 2014, and the skate park group is responsible for raising all of the funds for the design, construction, operation and maintenance.
To donate to the skate park project, go here.