Built in 2001, parts of the skate park at Mineral Springs Park in Pekin have deteriorated to the point where the Pekin Park District has been forced to temporarily close the facility.
“The wood in places is starting to rot,” said Pekin Park District executive director Cameron Bettin. “It’s a flat surface, so when there is rain or snow, it takes a while for that water to go away. That causes a lot of the deterioration of the wood over time. The wood structure is starting to show its age, which is causing some safety concerns.”
According to Bettin, the park district is faced with three options regarding the skate park. Their choices are to keep the current facility and continue making repairs, remove pieces of the structure and install new ones, or shut down the skate park permanently.
“That hasn’t been decided yet,” he said. “Nothing is going to happen to the skate park this year.”
To help determine the skate park’s future fate, the Pekin Park District held a public input meeting Thursday at the Miller Senior Center. More than 50 area residents attended the event.
“We want to get your feedback and there might be another meeting once we get input from people,” said Bettin. “We’ll go back to the Board, let them know how tonight went and what the feedback is, and we’ll take it from there. This is a decision process that is going to take some time, and your input is very important.”
Following a short presentation on the condition of the skate park, Bettin invited questions, comments and suggestions from the audience. Concerned residents asked about the possibility of donating to the park district for structural repairs, forming a group to hold a fundraiser, and enlisting local volunteers to help with the repair work.
“We would love to have people raise money to help us,” said Bettin. “Park district finances are tight, just like with a lot of government agencies. Of course, the park district will put some funds toward skate park repairs, but we would go for grants if they’re available. If there are donors who would like to contribute or if there is a group that would like to get together to raise funds, that would be a huge help.”
Some of the suggestions offered included replacing the perishable wooden structure with more permanent concrete or steel fixtures, opening an alternative site for skateboard and bicycling enthusiasts while the skate park is closed, and stimulating interest in bringing a skateboard competition to Pekin.
Bettin stated that the park district does not plan to close the skate park permanently. When it reopens, the park district is considering replacing its lengthy list of rules with a ‘skate at your own risk’ policy.
“Obviously, we suggest that you wear helmets and all the safety gear,” he said.
At this point, Bettin does not have an estimate as to what repairs on the skate park will cost or what funding will be available. The park district’s budget year begins next month, and he does not expect a budget to be approved until September.