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Hope Mills commissioners approve partnership for rebuilt skatepark

Foundation estimates facility would draw 36,000 visitors in first year


The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners took action on upgrading the skatepark at the town's Municipal Park, writing a “no parking” ordinance in front of the T.J. Robinson Center, as well as purchasing an alarm system for the Parks & Recreation Center at its meeting Monday.

Skatepark upgrades

A presentation by Friends of the Skateparks Foundation was brought forward by 16-year-old Chase Johnston.

The foundation and local skateboarders want to upgrade the skatepark at Hope Mills Municipal Park. A proposal  was posted on Facebook and has been shared there more than 170 times.

“In the two years I’ve lived here, that’s the only skatepark I have known or have been able to reach,” Johnston told the commissioners. “It’s the only skatepark I get to go and hang out with my friends. … This skatepark means everything to me.”

The cost to rebuild an 11,625-square-foot park has been estimated at between $581,000 and $953,000. The foundation’s founder and director, Terry Grimble, said his organization would help Hope Mills with fundraising, finding sponsors, applying for grants, looking for donations and continuing to help after the park is completed with activities at the park.

The foundation helped with construction of the Rowan Skatepark in Fayetteville and estimates the park would draw more than 36,000 visitors a year to Hope Mills, including more than 15,000 potential users.

Interim Town Manager Chancer McLaughlin described the park as a great project for the town and its Parks & Recreation Department, as well as a way to keep Hope Mills youngsters involved in the community.

“I think that we have got to continue to find active ways to engage our youths through projects like this,” McLaughlin said.

Commissioner Grilley Mitchell told the audience he was surprised to hear that skating is a huge draw for teenagers and young adults but he sees how this could be a great opportunity for the town. He said that with rising gun violence and rising suicide rates, the community needs this project.

“The time is now for our youth,” Mitchell said. “The time is now to move forward. The time is now to start fundraising.” 

A partnership between the town and the Friends of the Skateparks Foundation was unanimously approved, allowing the foundation to begin working with the town for funding that would include seeking grants and local donations.

‘No parking’ ordinance

An item that was added to the agenda by Commissioner Bryan Marley was a proposal of a no-parking ordinance for the area in front of the T.J Robinson Center.

Marley is concerned about the number of people parking on the side of Black Bridge Road in front of the youth athletic facility. McLaughlin said the N.C. Department of Transportation said the town can enforce a no-parking ordinance on DOT roadways as long as it’s within the town's jurisdiction.

Commissioner Joanne Scarola suggested that town administrators reach out to the owner of the center and ask whether he could resolve the issue. She suggested the no-parking ordinance would be punishing families and not the center itself.

“Kids go there to play basketball,” Scarola said. “We are essentially going to punish kids and their parents because there is no available parking, for whatever reason.”

Mayor Pro Tem Kenjuana McCray argued that a gun violence prevention gathering in honor of a young man who was murdered in May on Raeford Road had a big turnout and a large number of cars were parked on the side of the road.

McCray, who lives across the street from the establishment, said apart from that, the building has barely been used in the past six months.

“We want the youth to do all of these things,” she said. “I do think it would be prudent of us to reach out to them and ask them to open up their parking lot before we go fine this establishment that is for youth.”

According to McLaughlin, there should be enough parking behind the building, but people have complained that it’s not being used.

The board agreed that the town should reach out to the owner of the center but unanimously voted to begin working toward creating a no-parking ordinance for the two to be used for enforcement in specific incidences when the need arises.

New alarm system, appointment

The board unanimously approved its consent agenda, which included a budget amendment to purchase and install an alarm system for the Parks & Recreation Center. The alarm system will cost $30,325.

The board also unanimously appointed Glenn Wallace to the Appearance Committee and Denise Melton to the Veterans Affairs Committee. The appointments were approved without discussion.

The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners will meet again at 7 p.m. Oct. 2.

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Hope Mills, Board of Commissioners, skatepark