DES MOINES, Iowa — 12 years, that’s how long the Des Moines Regional Skate Park Committee has been working to get their 65,000 square-foot skate park built.
The plan is a daunting one, $3.5 million in private money for a world-class skate facility.
“For the kids who live here even better to have that in your back yard, it would be impressive, but skateboarders will travel, so now you’ll get anyone who lives, however far, will travel to a good skate park,” said committee member Kevin Jones.
The committee has under $1 million of that money raised, but could see cash flow in sooner, rather than later.
“Their big donors don’t want to fully commit until the city is on board so we hope over the next month we have action on our agenda to approve a development agreement. A cooperative agreement that allows them to actually go out and get people to sign their pledge cards,” said City Councilman Christopher Coleman.
Selling the idea hasn’t always been easy; skaters say they often have to overcome stereotypes.
“A lot of people don’t like skaters. We’re good people, we’re just trying to have fun we’re not trying to cause problems, we’re not trying to vandalize your property,” said skater Kirk Williams.
Skaters however, never have had a place in the city to call their own.
“You know there’s a saying you build cities and neighborhoods and all that, if you don’t have a skate park you are one” said Councilman Coleman.
The space issue has already been solved; in 2009 the city council approved access to the land between the Des Moines River and the Wells Fargo Arena. The hope for this project is not only to provide a haven for local skateboarders, but to make it a destination for regional and national competition.
“People come to town, stay in the hotels they eat at our restaurants and go to Adventure Land and attend concerts, those are all great things,” said Councilman Coleman. “This is one more way we can prove that we’re embracing diversity in our community, a real important part of diversity, the kind of diversity that respects that not all people have the same interest and want to do the same things.”
For those dedicated to skateboarding however, they say the real benefit is the memories that it will make.
“The community is the great thing in what happens. Friends that I started skating with, whether they still skate or not are great friends of mine, were in my wedding things like that, they’re with you for the rest of time. That’s huge, and that’s what will grow and be even stronger with this skate park,” said Jones.
On Saturday, the Des Moines Social Club will hold an all-day concert to help raise funds.