Skatepark supporters make their case
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Supporters of a public skatepark in Coweta County appeared before the Coweta Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
Stephen Porrello and Andrew Churchill represented the Coweta County Skate Park Committee at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
There used to be an indoor skate park in Newnan, but it closed four years ago. “It was a business, but nonetheless, it was a skatepark,” Porrello said. The owners sold the business and a new owner thought he could make a go of it but was unable to.
“We watched the place that we thought was our home shut down, and four years later we’re still here,” he said. “We want to create a skatepark.”
“We have created a vision, a plan” to bring a skatepark to Coweta, he said. “We feel like there is a need. We feel like this is something that can benefit the community. We want to make this a reality.”
Porrello thinks there are “probably over 1,000 different individual in Coweta County who are very interested in this.” The Coweta County Skatepark Facebook page has more than 400 likes, and a petition for a public skatepark has 229 signatures.
“We’re not just a bunch of punks,” Porrello said. “We really do have a vision and we think we can do this. We think this is better than sitting around playing video games and watching reality TV.”
Porrello said the skatepark could also be for roller blades, scooters and bicycles.
The biggest question is the location. Porrello said he has seen skateparks by grocery stores and in other locations.
“I think there are a lot of creative options,” Porrello said. “We appreciate you coming before the board,” said Chairman Bob Blackburn.
County Administrator Michael Fouts said “we need to evaluate” the proposal and speak with the recreation department to “see if there is any opportunity.”
Skateboarding is an art, said Churchill. “Providing a skatepark for the youth of this community could be very beneficial, by bringing these like-minded individuals together to allow them a safe place to perform their art, as well as experience that camaraderie, that companionship and that sense of community.”
The activity level of today’s youth tends to be very low, thanks to things like video games, he said. “They sit around a lot, so we are seeing problems with inactive youth. Skateboarding creates an active lifestyle and promotes good health.”
— Grantville Mayor Jim Sells also spoke to the commissioners about recreation, but didn’t mention the city’s proposed skatepark.
Sells said the library is popular, but the ball fields are under-utilized. Sells said they want to try using some of the baseball/softball fields for other sports. There’s also a need to get a walking trail around the ball fields.
“We need more recreation in Grantville and we’re addressing that,” Sells said. The city is looking to hire a full-time recreation director.
“What I want to bring forward is our need for a gymnasium,” Sells said. The city has $135,000 for recreation in the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. “We’re hoping we can work with the county” toward getting a gym. “All I’m doing is throwing this out there,” he said.
In other meeting business:
• The board approved extended operating hours and year-round operation for 13 Stories Haunted House at 320 Temple Ave. Commissioner Tim Lassetter voted in opposition.
• The board approved the completed update to the joint Comprehensive Transportation Plan for Coweta and its municipalities. Senoia approved the plan Monday, and the other municipalities are set to approve it in the next few weeks.
• The board approved a change to zoning ordinances regarding “non-conforming uses.”
A non-conforming use is one that doesn’t meet current zoning regulations, building codes and the like, but did when it was originally established.
Previously, once a non-conforming property or use was vacant for a year, it couldn’t be re-established without coming into conformity with current regulations.
The amendment extends that window to five years.
“The thought behind it is, it would be better that the building is being used versus that building being abandoned,” said Planning Director Robert Tolleson.
The properties will have to come into compliance with some regulations: the Americans with Disabilities Act; current stormwater management requirements; “life safety” issues; and, to the extent the property will permit it, parking standards.