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City cooperates with Imagine Grinnell to build new skate park

The new skate park will be located at the intersection of 8th Avenue and Prince Street. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.
The new skate park will be located at the intersection of 8th Avenue and Prince Street. Photo by Helena Gruensteidl.

At the end of last February, the Grinnell City Council approved a plan for the city to cooperate with Imagine Grinnell in the construction of a new skate park at the intersection of 8th Avenue and Prince Street, near Grinnell Community Senior High School.

Grinnell used to have a skate park on the site of old tennis courts near Bailey Park Elementary School. It included wooden ramps, which did not hold up well to the harsh Iowa weather. Eventually, the ramps were deemed unsafe and the city had to remove them. 

According to Rich Dana, executive director of Imagine Grinnell, the loss of this facility was significant to the community, and demand for a skate park remains high. 

“The old skate park was popular, and it’s something that skaters and BMX riders are missing, so we are working on raising the funds for a permanent concrete park,” he said. 

In an email to The S&B, Grinnell City Manager Russ Behrens noted that although Grinnell already has a number of successful and well-maintained public spaces, a skate park might attract a new segment of the public. 

“The skate park will serve a diverse group of users. Our parks have many options for young children but fewer opportunities for teens and young adults, so the skate park will appeal to them,” Behrens wrote.

Planning for the park has been in the works for the past three years. While the park will be built on part of a four-acre plot owned by the City of Grinnell, Imagine Grinnell, a member of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, has been in charge of funding for the project. 

“In a lot of cases, the city just doesn’t have the people-power to dedicate to a fundraising campaign, so they engage [the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation],” Dana said.

According to Dana, his personal interest in skateboarding was part of the reason for Imagine Grinnell’s involvement. “I was a skateboarder as a young man,” he said. “I had enthusiasm for it, and it fit within the mission of Imagine Grinnell, so we took it on.”

Imagine Grinnell has already raised $160,000 for the project, but Behrens estimated that the park will cost approximately $200,000 to construct. Once bids for the construction are recieved, which will make more accurate price estimates possible, Imagine Grinnell and the city will likely need to do another push for fundraising before entering into a construction contract. So far, according to Dana, Imagine Grinnell has collected funding from a variety of sources, including a grant from the Wellmark Foundation, a grant from Grinnell College and small donations from individuals and businesses in town.

Funding this skate park is far from the first project Imagine Grinnell has undertaken during its 30 years in existence. The group was involved in founding the Grinnell Farmer’s Market and starting a city-wide recycling program.

Imagine Grinnell’s mission, according to the group’s website, is to “create a more vibrant, sustainable, and healthy Grinnell community.” Dana claimed that the new skate park will serve to fulfill that mission.

Once the fundraising has been completed, both Dana and Behrens described hopes that the new skate park will be a valuable addition to the community.

According to Dana, construction will hopefully begin this summer. 

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