GAITHERSBURG — At a work session at City Hall Monday night, Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council received recommendations on new uses for the city skate park, whose use has been declining in recent years, according to city staff.
Sharon Disque, the city’s Business Services Coordinator, and Michele Potter, Director of Arts, Recreation and Culture, said that public use of the skate park had declined, in line with a nationwide decline in the purchase of skateboards and skating equipment.
“The facility is declining, and the time has come to decide what to do with the grounds,” Disque said.
Disque and Potter outlined several potential new uses that city staff had discussed for the skate park. Their recommendation is that the park be converted into a picnic and entertainment space.
“This would address a known demand for picnic spaces, the location is convenient, and the area supports the configuration,” Disque said.
Disque and Potter estimated the cost of converting the skate park into a picnic area at between $180,000 and $260,000.
Ashman and the Council expressed support for the proposal.
“The city’s park pavilions are clearly very successful, so if this would be an enhanced one, a rentable park pavilion. I could get behind that, at least in the short term,” Ashman said.
“I’m concerned that we’ve gotten a little too ambitious with capital projects and need to focus on what we can do with the spaces we already have,” said Council Member Neil Harris. “The private sector is not likely to create picnic spaces, and this project would likely generate a great deal of revenue and usage.”
“I don’t think the skate park is the best use for the city, even though I used to skate once upon a time,” said Council Member Robert Wu. “I think the true good use of this space would be to bring in hired programming, perhaps invite Dawson’s Market in for catering and bring bands in. “
At the beginning of the work session, Ashman commended Deputy City Manager Dennis Enslinger and the Department of Public Works for their prompt response in clearing the city’s streets after the weekend’s snowfall.