Merrill’s skate park updates
Changes at current skate park; plans for the future
Within the next few weeks, members of the community may notice some action going on at the current skate park located at the corner of Polk Street and Highway 64 in Merrill. This work will be done in order to improve the appearance and function of the skate park. You will soon see:
1) The removal of all skate park fencing, with the exception of the north side section (along Highway 64);
2) The removal of the old, little used tennis court and fencing (this area to be replanted with grass);
3) And the re-painting of skate park structures, if so desired by the users of the skate park.
All skate park lighting will remain in place, as well as all of the skate park structures. It was decided to do this work, as it is needed to improve the appearance of the area and because it could be a while before funds are raised to build the new skate park out at the MARC.
This work will cost very little for the City. Also of note:
1) After the new skate park is built, the current skate park will be removed and returned to green space.
2) The equipment used to do the work already belongs to the City and Street Department.
3) Any work, such as the painting of skate park structures, will be done by volunteers
A new skate park for Merrill?
A new skate park is still on the horizon for Merrill. Last spring, a modern design by Spohn Ranch Skate Parks of Los Angeles was presented to and approved by the Merrill Parks & Recreation Committee. This beautiful design can be viewed by contacting the Merrill Area Parks and Recreation Department.
Upon the raising of necessary funds for construction, the new skate park will be built at the site that was approved by the Parks & Recreation Committee in 2019, at the MARC in the large, open field, just west of the Smith Center. This location is ideal for the many amenities already in place, such as parking, restrooms, and room for future expansion, summertime access to the food & refreshment stand at the Bierman Family Aquatic Center, and a great location for community events, such as skate tournaments.
This location is also just outside of town and will be even easier to access when the River Bend Trail is finished all the way out to Council Grounds State Park in the very near future. If the funds can be raised for the construction of the new skate park, it will be the biggest and best in the state of Wisconsin and in much of the Great Lakes region and will provide the community of Merrill and Lincoln County with the following important benefits;
1) A modern skate park will attract many visitors which is good for local businesses.
2) The new skate park will provide our skaters with a safe place to recreate.
3) A great skate park offers a fun, healthy form of recreation and exercise.
4) Our new skate park will benefit people of all ages and abilities.
5) The skate park will attract skate-tourists and professional events.
6) A modern skate park gives a community a more progressive and positive image.
7) Our new skate park will aid in the growth of our community by attracting more young people & families.
8) A modern skate park is a place that increases diversity as skaters are from all walks of life.
9) The new skate park will provide a venue for skating in all its forms; skateboards, scooters, BMX bikes, and roller blades.
10) Compared with traditional sports, skaters are under-served in our community, which will benefit tremendously from a new, concrete skate park.
11) Modern skate parks help to support a vibrant, healthy community—just like other athletic facilities.
12) Skateboarding and other skate activities are fun and popular spectator sports for kids, parents, and grandparents.
13) A great skate park is a healthy place for youngsters to congregate after school.
14) Many communities nationwide now see skate parks as must-have amenities, rather than special facilities, and are already enjoying their benefits.
15) Our new skate park would add substantially to community pride.
16) There is much evidence that an awesome skate park combats drugs, smoking, obesity, and alcohol abuse.
17) Skating in all its forms, is a legitimate sport in that it requires dedication, practice, and discipline.
18) A modern skate park allows skaters to be creative and independent, but to also form new friendships and social skills.
19) Modern skate parks serve the entire community, not just one age bracket.
20) Our new skate park will be used for most of the year, not just for a few months in the summer.
21) Concrete skate parks are low-maintenance and durable athletic facilities.
22) A great, community skate park provides a positive sense of identity for young people who do not wish to participate in traditional sports.
23) A modern skate park is a fun, new attraction for local families.
24) Many park directors in Wisconsin say that their skate parks are the most popular recreational facilities in their community parks.
25) Our community is home to many types of skaters of all ages—this will only increase with the building of a beautiful, modern, concrete skate park in Merrill.
In a 2020 study of the skateboarding culture, (the first of its kind,) led by USC researchers and funded by the Tony Hawk Foundation, principle study investigator Zoe Corwin had this to say, “Skateboarders are prone to being labeled by society as rebels, social deviants and rule-breakers. Stereotyping masks an array of valuable skills obtained through skateboarding.”
In addition, Neftalie Williams, “a scholar in race and skateboarding culture, served as a researcher and co-author on the project” and had this to say: “Our research shows that through skateboarding, skaters develop the ability to communicate and build relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. Skaters are excellent critical thinkers and problem-solvers who view success from a more communal perspective. They bring that insight into other areas of their lives, which is valuable to any university or organization.’”
Much work and research has gone into the planning of Merrill’s proposed new skate park at the Merrill Area Recreation Complex (MARC). We have a beautiful, functional, and unique design, but what we need now is the funding for construction, to bring the dream to life for the benefit of the entire community.
Questions or concerns about the work should be directed to Dan Wendorf, the City of Merrill Parks & Recreation Director.