Skateboarding enthusiasts want Arlington to put park on a fast track

ARLINGTON -- Despite lobbying and promises of private funding, the city's first skate park is unlikely to be built before its scheduled time in 2012, city park officials said.

Skating enthusiasts, led by the parents of Cody Rocamontes, a 15-year-old Martin High School sophomore who was struck and killed by a car last year as he walked to an unauthorized skating spot, don't want to wait that long.

The group, calling itself the Skate Park Committee, has offered to help pay the $500,000 cost to move it up on the construction schedule. The committee hosted a skating event Saturday that raised almost $10,000, said Rock Rocamontes, Cody's father.

"Our agenda is to have a free, safe and legal place for all these kids to go," Rocamontes said.

But Matt Young, assistant city parks director, said Arlington is tied to a financial schedule. The $500,000 in bonds earmarked for the park are set for sale in 2012, the first year of the $15.5 million bond program for parks that voters approved in 2008.

He didn't rule out that private funds could influence the timing of smaller "skate spots" that could be built in neighborhood parks around the city.

"About $30,000 will get you a basketball court-size facility," Young said, adding that private funds would have to cover the entire cost because those skate sites aren't yet funded. "But it's not going to replace or change what our priority will be for the main skate park."

City Councilwoman Sheri Capehart said the city can't ignore commitments on other parks.

"Because of budget constraints and various other reasons, those parks have been pushed off and pushed off for a number of years," Capehart said. "I can sympathize with the people who want to see it sooner, but the city can only take on so much debt at any one time."

The city is about to kick off work on a master plan to guide development of skate sites. Young said the goal is to complete the plan by the end of the year and incorporate it into the 2004 overall park master plan for the city's 4,060-acre park system. The plan is set for an update this year.

On Friday, the parks department launched a detailed online survey for public suggestions on skate park features and locations.

"We appreciate everything the Cody Rocamontes skate committee has been able to accomplish," Young said. "And we're going to be working hand-in-hand with them to get our common goals accomplished."