‘Where are we supposed to skateboard’; Boy asks city council for skate park in Washington City

ST. GEORGE — Washington City may develop a skateboard and scooter park if a young skater who spoke to the City Council Wednesday has anything to say about it.

Washington City Councilman Kurt Ivie stands with 11-year-old CJ Nielson in asking the city to consider building a skate park for the city’s skateboarders and scooter riders, Washington City, Utah, March 11, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

CJ Nielson, 11, of Washington City, stood before the City Council during a workshop meeting Wednesday afternoon and asked, “Where are we supposed to skateboard, or ride our scooters, or do that? I think we’re one of the only places that doesn’t have a skate park or something like that. I feel we could change that.”

Currently, area skateboarders and scooter riders in Washington City have to visit skate parks in nearby St. George and Santa Clara if they want to use a facility built for that purpose. Otherwise, they have to use streets and curbside and whatever else is available.

Due to there not being an accessible skate park in the city, CJ said he knew of some kids who had given up on the hobby and sit in front of their computers instead.

The type of skate park that CJ proposed would not only cater to skateboarders and scooter riders but BMX bikers and inline skaters as well.

Councilman Kurt Ivie, who recently retired as an elementary school teacher, left his seat to stand with CJ and told the council he has taught the boy’s fifth grade class and found him to be smart and well-liked. The boy had spoken to Ivie about the idea of a skate part before, and his teacher encouraged him to talk to the City Council about it. However, he had no idea the boy would be in front of the council that afternoon.

11-year-old skateboarder and scooter rider CJ Nielson asks the city to consider building a skate park, Washington City, Utah, March 11, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Prior to the council meeting, Ivie and City Manager Roger Carter discussed the possibility of building a skate park. Initially, there were thoughts of putting it by the city’s existing dog park since the city bought property for park expansion there. But Ivie said the basin area at the end of 3650 South may be a more viable idea.

There was even the suggestion of providing an area for those with remote control vehicles and planes as a part of the overall park facility.

Building the infrastructure needed for a skate park is relatively inexpensive for a city, particularly if it already owns the land the park will be built on, Ivie said. Adding a potential BMX track is also mainly a manner of moving dirt around, so that wouldn’t be a stretch to include, he added.

While supporting the idea of building a new facility, Councilman Daniel Cluff said he’d like to see existing parks adapted for skater use.

“We don’t limit bikes, we don’t limit a lot of things (in the parks), but for some reason, skateboards and scooters are the devil, and I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Cluff said.

Stock photo by Wise Fool from Pixabay, St. George News

Council Craig Coats said he supported the concept of a skate park but did not think opening the current parks up to skateboards and scooters was a good idea.

Coats said he had been an inline skater during a part of the 90s and would skate in places he probably shouldn’t have. He also noted the damage skating in general could cause to curbs and other park and street infrastructure.

“I really think we need a skate park,” Coats said.

Going along with an idea CJ supported, Coats said he would like to see a park that catered not only to skaters, but that also had traditional park facilities like a playground and open space where a family could be.

CJ took the concept further, saying he liked how Santa Clara had sports facilities like baseball fields by its existing skate park.

City Manager Roger Carter told CJ that his voice would likely have an influence on the council’s future actions, and related how a young man’s repeated poking of the council in the past led to the city building one of its larger facilities.

It was around 2004 when a young man kept visiting the council about once every few months and told them that if the city didn’t give the young people something to do, they’d likely get in trouble – to which CJ said he was basically saying the same thing.

“That young man helped influence us in building the community center,” Carter said.

Though the council took no immediate action on the matter, a nod was given for city staff to continue looking into the potential locations and costs of a skate park for the city.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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