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Skate park is topic of North Hudson public hearing

An area in the southwest corner of Sommers Landing Park (on the left side of the photo) has been proposed for a skateboard venue in North Hudson to serve the 8-15-year-old age group in the village. Photo by Jon Echternacht

A village park in the northwestern part of the community could become a skateboard venue in North Hudson if approved.

Trustee Colleen O'Brien-Berglund said a public hearing on a proposal to convert a portion of Sommers Landing Park, where Fourth St. N. and North End Road converge, into a skateboard area will be conducted at the Park Board's Dec. 8 meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Village Hall, 400 Seventh St. N.

"We invite residents to attend the meeting and express their interest and concerns," said O'Brien-Berglund, who is chair of the Park Board Committee.

The proposal was first unveiled at the Nov. 6 Board of Trustees' meeting. Resident Susan Overson, who has worked with the National Park Service as a landscape architect-planner for nearly two decades, did some exhaustive research on design and cost for the project and presented her findings.

"My interest in researching and developing a small skate park or skate spot was partially inspired by my kids' passion for the sport," Overson said.

She said that skateboarding is the No. 1 non-team sport for members of the 8-15-year-old age group, who need a place they can easily get to on bike or foot.

Both Overson and O'Brien-Berglund said there is a void in recreational opportunities for that particular age group in North Hudson parks.

When older teens get a driver's license, they can drive to a number of skateboarding venues throughout the east metro area.

Overson said Roberts has installed a skate spot about the size being considered for North Hudson.

The early research points toward pre-cast concrete ramps for the skate spot. "They are more maintenance-free and quieter," said O'Brien-Berglund.

The best news is that the money for such park improvements is probably already available.

The village has established a park development fund. Village officials said some of the money came from developers in lieu of land, and $5,000 from the general fund is added to it each year.

Overson estimated the cost for the project between $15,000 and $20,000 in Sommers Landing Park using concrete ramps and pad. The venue in Roberts cost $10,000.

Village administrator Gloria Troester said the Park Development Fund had $55,000 earmarked for park equipment going into 2009.

O'Brien-Berglund said that a skate park doesn't require any more liability insurance than is currently in place for parks.

If the proposal gains approval from the entire Board of Trustees, O'Brien-Berglund speculated work on the project could begin in the spring. Overson, who has lived in North Hudson since 1997, joined the Park Board in 2006. Her interest in developing a skate spot in the village is enhanced by her two teenage sons, who are involved in the sport.