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Parks adding skateboarding areas


There isn't a skateboard park to be found in Anne Arundel, and parents have always had to take their teens elsewhere - as far as Virginia - to find places to skate. But plans are under way to build two skateboard parks in the county - one possibly as soon as fall.

And a third one, in Severna Park, is still the goal of parents there, who plan to continue their efforts to get a local park.

Skateboarding areas will be built in Truxtun Park in Annapolis by fall or spring and in Sawmill Creek Park in Glen Burnie by spring. The projects aim to meet an increasing demand for a legitimate place to practice.

Both the county and city formed committees to study the demand for skateboard parks and determined that a growing need exists for such areas. Throughout the county, teens have made makeshift skateboarding areas out of parking lots, sidewalks and the steps of the State House in Annapolis.

"We chase the kids from the downtown area, and we don't have a place for them to go," said LeeAnn Bogan, city recreation and parks director.

The 80-by-100-square-foot skateboard area at Truxtun Park will be built in the parking lot near the pool, Bogan said. The city will work with the skating community to design the park and will consult an insurance company to ensure a safe park.

"The modern demand for recreational services very often includes a skate park," Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson said. "And we look forward to having one of the best in the region."

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved $27,750 for the skateboard park last week from the Department of Natural Resources Program Open Space, which provides funding for Maryland's state and local parks and conservation areas. The city will fund the remaining cost of the $37,000 park.

"We're very excited to do this because the governor very much believes in improving the quality of life, and this is one of those things that can certainly do that," said Charles Porcari, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources.

The skateboard park at Sawmill Creek Park will be a trial park for the county. Officials will monitor its use and problems and determine whether to keep it there, move it or construct more parks throughout the county, said Dennis Callahan, county recreation and parks director.

"Should that be a successful operation, and we think it will be, we will then most probably have a permanent facility," he said.

North county groups, including the Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce and the Glen Burnie Rotary Club, are helping to raise $100,000 to pay for the skateboard park. A size or design has not been determined for the park. It will be on the site of the two tennis courts, which will be relocated.

Callahan acknowledged the clamor for skateboard parks from throughout the county, but said the county chose Sawmill Creek Park because the area is well-used, has lights and has no homes in the immediate area.

"You could go from Shady Side to Glen Burnie, and there are numbers of people who want a skateboard park," Callahan said. "It may be two or it may be 200, and that's what we have to balance out."

Severna Park parents and teen-agers have been gaining momentum to lobby for a skateboard park in their neighborhood. Teens have pleaded their case before the County Council, and a constituency is growing to plan fund raising for a skateboard park.

"I would like to see a skateboarding area in every local park - even if it's just the size of a basketball court, where kids could walk to," said Karen Fox, a Severna Park mother whose son skateboards. "People wouldn't be satisfied if there was only a baseball park in north county and Annapolis."

The Severna Park group has contacted local teen bands about donating time for a fund-raiser, and they plan to talk to skateboard companies about setting up a skateboarding exhibition to raise money, said Leslie Heird of Severna Park.

Heird said she is excited that her son and his friends will soon have skateboard parks nearby so they won't have to travel to Vans Skatepark at Potomac Mills in Prince William, Va., or Spicy Skatepark in White Marsh in Baltimore County. But teens who don't drive and have parents who aren't home during the afternoon won't be able to use the local parks as often as they would like, she said.

"There are hours after school that the boys need a place to skate, and they're not going to be able to take advantage of a few facilities that are not close by," Heird said. "But it's a start, and we're happy about that."

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