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Skate park idea piques commissioner's interest

| Thursday, Oct. 10, 2002

A Ross official wants to take a closer look at bringing a skateboard park to the North Hills.

Commissioner Gerald O'Brien said Ross would be a perfect place for a skate park, if demand warrants one. O'Brien cited the interest of people in Millvale and Etna, as well as interest shown by residents at Ross' own public meetings, as the reasons to look into the matter.

"There have been people at meetings wanting us to build one. It sounds good to build one, but we don't have the money to do that," O'Brien said. "I'd rather have a place so they're not skating up the sides of walls and stuff."

O'Brien said he would be interested in looking into an offer that was made to Etna officials last month from a private individual who proposed building a skate park there if officials could find the space for it.

Ted Cook, who proposed the Etna facility, could not be reached for comment regarding the Ross option.

In a previous interview, Cook said he would like to find a 3- to 5-acre lot on which to build an indoor skate park.

Etna officials could not identify an appropriate piece of property for the proposed structure.

Insurance on such a building would require a $1 million to $2 million liability policy, Cook previously stated.

O'Brien said he would be happy to work with Cook — or anyone, for that matter — on a facility in Ross if that is what community members want.

"Us, Millvale and Etna, the south North Hills — we do have a lot of property around," O'Brien said. "I would like to utilize stuff like that, if it's what the township wants. I don't think Etna has the space or the budget to support it. I'll work with (Cook) on it. You just don't build that thing and let it sit there."

O'Brien went on to suggest that maybe several municipalities could come together to build a common facility.

"Maybe Bellevue and some of the other municipalities would like to join in," O'Brien said, adding that there must be a definite interest from the youths.

"If there's kids who want that, fine. It's expensive, and the insurance is expensive," he said.

Etna Manager Mary Ellen Ramage said officials there would be interested in discussing an intergovernmental facility with other communities.

"We're still investigating the possibility of building our own," she said. With the Cook option, "we didn't know of anything available right now."

According to Ramage, Ross Manager Tom Lavorini has brought the idea up to the North Hills Council of Governments, as well.

"I know it has come up in our COG meetings. Mr. Lavorini did bring it up," she said. "It has verbally been discussed about some kind of intergovernmental facility, and I'm sure the borough would like to sit down and talk about that."

Ramage said there has been no further movement on the Cook proposition.

A privately owned skate park recently opened in Millvale. And as a result of skateboarders' requests that officials in various communities — including Ross and Shaler — provide a place for them to skate, the North Allegheny Council of Governments has formally requested that Allegheny County build a skate park in North Park.

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