Skate parks are one step closer to becoming a reality in Thomson and McDuffie County.
Nearly two years ago, voters agreed to fund the skate parks in the county through funds raised by the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST V).
Recently, Thomson City Council members approved of the project going forward. Just last Wednesday, members of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners also consented to the same request from Bob Howard, director of the Thomson-McDuffie Recreation and Leisure Services.
Two different skate parks, including amenities will be about $248,000 and will be built in Dearing and at Pitt Street Park in Thomson, Mr. Howard said.
The skate park in Dearing will be constructed beside the newly renovated historic gym. It will be built on the site of where tennis was played years ago.
The skate park in Dearing will have a price tag of about $63,000, Mr. Howard said.
The Dearing skate park is broken down by the following costs:
Existing slab (90 feet x 40 feet) needs minor repairs, costing $1,000;
Equipment ramps and installation will cost $58,000;
Landscape will cost $2,000; and
Benches will cost $2,000.
The skate park at Pitt Street, meanwhile, will cost about $185,000, he added, because it will be larger in size.
The breakdown of it follows:
Equipment, ramps, slab and installation will cost $100,000;
Landscape will cost $10,000;
Park benches will cost $2,000;
Asphalt parking near fields for 15 vehicles, plus a circle drive will cost $15,000; and
Parking lot between basketball court and the skate park for 40 vehicles will cost $48,000.
A total of $300,000 was earmarked for the two skate parks, Mr. Howard said.
The recreation official said a Tony Hawk Foundation Grant also has been applied for. It could help in reducing the actual amount of the funds allocated from SPLOST V for both projects.
The grant, if awarded, could range from $1,000 to as much as $25,000.
"These will be very, very nice skate parks," he pointed out. "They will be available from daylight to dark. They will have no lighting."
McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said, "I like the way these parks look."
It now appears to that there will be a savings of approximately $52,000 and that is fine with Commissioner Bill Jopling and Paul McCorkle -- both of whom expressed concerns about the amount of money being spent on the skate parks.
"I've just got some concerns putting out that kind of money," Mr. Jopling said at a recent commission work session.
He pointed out that money for the new city/county government complex has dropped monthly. At last report, it was down about $75,000, he said.
"I just don't want us to get behind the eight-ball," Mr. Jopling said.
Mr. McCorkle said he understood where Mr. Jopling was coming from.
"Right now, it's a concern because we don't have a surplus plan as for as spending goes," Mr. McCorkle said.
The skate parks were recommended as a SPLOST project because of their popularity with youngsters in Thomson, Dearing and McDuffie County.
"The goal behind this is to provide somewhere safe for youngsters to skate," Mr. Howard said.
He explained that members of the recreation advisory board recommended the design of both skate parks in addition to improvements at the Pitt Street Park.
Equipment for both skate parks will be purchased and installed by American Ramp Company, of Jopling MO, Mr. Howard said. Both skate parks will be constructed of cast concrete.
"We'll use the government service contract to do these two projects, he pointed out.
Some of the sight work will be done by officials in Dearing, while some of the sight work at the Thomson skate park will be done by county work crews.