A small group of skateboarders plans to urge city leaders in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, to allow them to use a concrete pad at the city's Loyd Park for a small skate park.
Organizer, parent and local skateboarder Patrick Cannon says the group plans to approach South Pittsburg officials with the idea at their December meeting.
Cannon, 35, believes skateboarding could be something that gives kids and teens in South Pittsburg who don't play team sports something healthy to do with their recreational time. It would also give Cannon and his adult friends, who all are still avid skateboarders, a place to skate, too, he said.
"Growing up in the small town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, we had a lot of friends that kind of took wayward paths," Cannon said Friday of how he formed the idea.
"I and a group of a couple of other teenagers got into skateboarding around age 13, and this really altered the entire direction of our lives," he said.
"It was super positive, we stayed out of trouble, kept off the streets," Cannon said, "and we weren't the same kind of kids that were attracted to your normal team sports but [instead were attracted to] something a little more alternative."
Since then Cannon and his friends have become parents, and now their children are showing interest in skateboarding, too. But he said there's nowhere to go without a trip out of Marion County to places such as the Chattown Skate Park downtown on Carter Street in Chattanooga.
South Pittsburg's Loyd Park is a lopsided, hourglass-shaped parcel that is roughly one-third of a mile long and 500 to 600 feet at its widest on the ends and around 120 feet wide at the middle. The park was first dedicated in 1963 and named for the sitting mayor at the time, Lew Wilson Loyd.
The unused concrete pad — which appears to be a former basketball court — is situated on the north end of the park property between the fenced Playground Paradise and the city's old pool, now out of service.
Presently, Cannon said his group sets up temporary ramps and rails near the city's stage and other public sites but none of it's permanent.
City officials like the idea, it's the details they're still learning about.
"We're just now starting to talk about it," South Pittsburg Mayor Samantha Rector said Monday.
Rector said city officials want to get legal advice on the idea and learn more about skate parks. She said she'd seen the temporary equipment skateboarders use in some of the city's public areas but wasn't sure what a designated site would look like.
"We're all about being involved with our youth and getting things for kids to do, it's just a matter of seeing the process it takes to get it done," Rector said.
City Commissioner Matt Stone likes Cannon's idea and wonders if it could become part of recreational developments already being discussed. He said if the city pursues a recreational facility like a community or recreation center, it would likely be in the same area Cannon proposes for a skate park.
"We love the idea, it's just connecting the dots and seeing where everything else is going to fit and where would be the best place to put it," Stone said.
The recreational or community center idea is also in its formative stages and officials are still studying grant opportunities, he said. Stone said he looked forward to seeing more details about the skate park idea and how it would be funded.
"Thousands of small towns around the country have free public skate parks," an upbeat Cannon said, noting supporters of the idea can communicate with the group through its Facebook page. "We're willing to build, and use crowdfunding to raise the money for supplies. The only thing stopping us is permission from the city."
The South Pittsburg City Commission meets on the second Tuesday of the month. Its next meeting is Dec. 8.
Contact Ben Benton at email@example.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.