PORTAGE — When a small committee put out a survey to local skateboarders on what they would like to see in a new skate park, potential users weren't shy.
Of the 137 people who responded, 60 were from Portage and the rest came from as far as LaPorte, DeMotte and suburban Chicago, said Jeff Zielinski, founder of Driftwood Collective, a nonprofit organization which runs local skateboard events and assists skaters and communities with developing parks.
They want banks and ramps and vertical jumps and quarter pipes, just to name a few, according to the survey.
Members of the Portage Park Board and local skaters have been working since earlier this year to put together a proposal for a new skate park in the city. The previous park, built in 2001 at Woodland Park, was torn down because of safety concerns. The department had hired consultants to come up with a design, but they came in with a proposed park costing $1 million, something officials said the city couldn't afford.
The committee made a presentation earlier this week to the City Council.
Zielinski, who has also worked with Highland and Hammond on developing new skate parks, said the committee has come up with a proposed 8,000-square-foot design which would cost $360,000 to construct. The design was a product of input from potential users. The proposed location is the northeast corner of Countryside Park on the city's west side. The area is bright and open and visible in addition to being accessible, he said.
"It means a lot to these kids. It means a lot to all of us," Zielinski said about the sport. "Skateboarders are some of the most motivated people in the world."
Park Board member Jeff Veach, who served on the committee, said the Park Board is behind the proposal, and believes local union trades members would volunteer to construct the park and help bring the costs down.
"We need to get into the details of the plan," said Mayor James Snyder, who said he supports the effort. He said they now need to refine the plans and see what costs can be defrayed by using volunteer labor.
Snyder also told them to "think big, don't constrain yourselves," when coming up with the final design for the park, which currently doesn't include lighting or other amenities.
City Council member Liz Modesto, D-1st, said she would like to complete a survey of residents in the area to get their feeling about constructing the park at Countryside. Modesto represents that area of the city.