Springbrook residents are hopeful that the local skatepark will benefit after Red Deer County stepped in to operate and maintain it.
Last April, the Springbrook Skatepark Committee notified Red Deer County that it wanted to terminate a lease for the skate park and surrounding property and turn it over to the county to operate and maintain.
County council approved the move on Tuesday and now plans to look at options for running and maintaining the skate park, possibly by contracting out to a community group.
The skatepark had been almost 10 years in the making when it opened in the summer of 2021. The county has been a major financial contributor, providing about $485,000 towards its $650,000 cost. Recently, another $22,000 was spent on lighting.
Skatepark committee chair Adrian Pidhirney said the project was a major undertaking and they managed to get it built despite the pandemic.
However, since then the volunteer base has dwindled with only five active members and they plan to dissolve the committee when it next meets.
“(The county) has got the resources and the budget to look after community assets so we just decided with the community struggling to keep going with it it was time for the county to step up and help support that asset.”
Pidhirney said now the skatepark is in the county’s hands he hopes to see some of the unfinished work completed, such as creating shaded areas, adding picnic tables and a paved path linked to the park.
Springbrook Community Association president Tariann Bowman said the community association believes the skatepark has more to offer.
“We’re really hoping it is utilized to better extent than it has been (by providing) different programs and opportunities. Hopefully, the county would be interested in partnering with the association for some of those programs.
“We’d like to see more partnerships and communication with the county.”
The association believes it should have been consulted and asked if it was interested in playing a role in operating the skatepark when the lease termination first came up in the spring.
Tariann said association members are concerned the skatepark committee’s difficulties could raise doubts about the future of the community association, which has been pushing hard for a community hall and a dog park.
Unlike the skatepark committee, the community association is strong and has more than 40 volunteers putting on community events each year, she said.
County community services director Jo-Ann Symington said the county was dealing with the skatepark committee because it was the leaseholder. When the issue got to council, the community association and any others were given an opportunity to comment.
Assistant county manager Dave Dittrick said the county’s main concern was that Springbrook not be responsible for operation costs such as insurance and maintenance.
“We wanted to make sure the Springbrook community wasn’t going to be saddled with any liability or extra costs,” he said.
The county is now working on the best route forward, which could involve a parternship with a community group.
“We want to make sure we set up a group for success,” he said, adding significant work is required to maintain a skatepark and hiring a contractor may be the best option.
“We have to be cautious we want to make sure the group is sustainable. We thought we had a sustainable group the last time around and it came back at us really quickly.”
Dittrick said the skatepark issue will not affect its relationship with the community association.
“We’re willing to work with the community group on a dog park, a community hall and whatever other amenities they’re wishing.”
A community needs assessment is planned to get a better picture of what the community wants.