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Monday, March 9, 2020

HIghlands High Student Urges Council to Bring a Skate/Bike Park to Highland Hills Park

"With a skate park, children of all ages can ride their bikes, scooters and skateboards..." - HHS Senior Wyatt Richards brought the idea of a skate park to city council in February.

By Robin Gee

Highland High School senior Wyatt Richards brought the idea for a skateboarding facility or skate park within the Highland Hills Park to the February city council meeting.

He cited the need in the city for more recreational facilities for young children. "With a skate park, children of all ages can ride their bikes, scooters and skateboards. It’s hard to find a recreation facility that will serve a varied range of ages...Forty percent of all skateboarders are between 6 and 12 years old, an age in which we don’t have many facilities for in Fort Thomas."

Skateboarding is rising in popularity, Richards said. In fact, there are more than nine million skateboarders in the United States, and it will debut as an Olympic sport at the 2020 Summer Games in Japan.

Highlands High senior Wyatt Richards with his father Scott Richards. The student addressed council with a request for a skate park in Highland Hills Park.
A skate park is low maintenance and offers a high return, he said. "Skate parks require little maintenance and will last for years without significant attention. Skateboard parks are often cited as parks departments’ most-used facilities. It would not be uncommon to have 80 visitors a day, which would be a heavily used facility."

Beyond recreational benefits, Richards said having a central skateboarding facility helps build community. "This community will encourage and support each other. Many of these friendships last for years or even decades."

He also outlined the safety benefits of having the facility within a public park. "As an issue of public safety, a skate park can play an important role in giving kids an appropriate safe place to skate and play rather than in a parking lot, on the street or on private property," he said.

"Fort Thomas has always been an innovative, unique and great place to live and play. A skate park would be a fantastic addition to the community giving young kids and teens like myself a place to express our creativity, make friends and become more physically and mentally healthy," Richards concluded.

Perfect timing for the community plan

City Administrator Ron Dill thanked Richards for his proposal and noted that, in fact, it was great timing. On February 26, Fort Thomas city staff hosted a public meeting to focus on the parks and recreation portion of the Fort Thomas Community Plan.

He encouraged Richards to attend the meeting and to bring forward his idea of a skate park. The goal of the meeting was to bring people up to speed on current projects from the community plan and serve as a forum for exploring additional opportunities present in the city’s park system, he said. Richards attended the meeting to explain why a skatepark may be a good addition for Fort Thomas.

The meeting also addressed the creation of a citizens’ advisory committee to help the staff with planning for the future of parks and recreation in the city, Dill added.

Council member Jeff Bezold, chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said the group has been looking at incorporating spaces for bikes and skateboards. Nothing is decided yet, he said, but Richards’ input would be greatly appreciated by the committee.

Highland Hills Park features more than 77 acres. Currently, amenities include two sheltered picnic areas, a basketball court, nine-hole disc golf course, baseball/soccer field, a gaga pit and dog park.

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