Petition sparks talk of Dalton skate park

Petition sparks talk of Dalton skate park

April 1st, 2010 by Kelly Jackson in News

DALTON, Ga. - After eighth-grader Victor Cervantes studied the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, he decided to exercise his right to petition and persuade city officials to build a skate park.

The 14-year-old Dalton Middle School student collected more than 200 signatures from fellow students, teachers and residents and presented his request to the City Council on March 15.

He said the city already has designated places for other sports, such as baseball and basketball.

"If you zoom in closely, there's something missing, which is a skate park," Victor told the City Council.

Staff photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free Press Victor Cervantes skateboards every week on a concrete slab at the James Brown Recreation Center in Dalton, Ga. Cervantes recently filed a petition signed by 100 peers to the Dalton City Council to create a safe skate park for Dalton youth.

Staff photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free Press...

Council members say they will consider his proposal.

"I think it would be nice if we had a facility like that, particularly to keep skateboarders off of the places they're not supposed to be," Councilman George Sadosuk said. "Also, we're trying to improve recreation facilities here ... and skateboarding is something that is coming down the pipe."

The nearest public skate park is in Chattanooga, according to newspaper archives. There's also a privately owned facility in Tunnel Hill, about nine miles from Dalton.

After the council meeting, Dalton Parks and Recreation Director Ronnie Nix was asked to look into the matter. He is expected to report back to city officials on Monday.

A skate park would cost the city about $100,000, but one already was in the city parks master plan, Mr. Nix said. Possible locations include Lakeshore Park and James Brown Park, he said.

The city finished 2009 with about $600,000 to spare, Mayor David Pennington said. While the final decision is up to the council, adding a skate park is something the city could afford to do this year, he said.

Such a park fits perfectly with the city's plan to "make this a much more interesting place to live for young, educated people," Mr. Pennington said.

Mr. Cervantes said a skate park also is about safety. A friend of his brother's was hit by a car while skateboarding about a year ago and suffered a dislocated shoulder, he said.

Bruce Frazier, spokesman for the Dalton Police Department, said a skate park would be a positive thing for law enforcement.

"(Skateboarders would) be safe from not only traffic, but also from pedestrians getting in their way," he said.

Jerry McAfee, a social studies teacher at Dalton Middle, said he, too, signed the petition and he's proud of Mr. Cervantes' effort.

"He's done a real good job of learning what that process of our government is," Mr. McAfee said.

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