Skaters raise money to improve park

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:19 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Not the most likely coupling you’d see, but cops and skateboarders are uniting (gasp) in the name of cleanliness, safety and the good that is the Skate Park, part of Veterans Park in Fulton. OK, not cops exactly, but the community powers that be.

Over the years, the Skate Park and its immediate surroundings have plunged from dirty to disgusting to downright foul. The list was getting pretty bad with graffiti, an abundance of fighting, drug sales, a destroyed drinking fountain and nasty rest room facilities. This year, the total mess was estimated to cost between $500 to $700 worth of damages.

In September of 2005, skaters were issued a challenge.

“If they could go six months without damaging the park, we would put in new equipment,” said Clay Caswell director of Fulton’s Park and Recreation Department.

The challenge gained attention from Fulton high school students who sought help from social studies teacher Anne Griffen. Minds locked into creative action for a full month before the students formed the Fulton Skate Club, to improve and maintain the park.

Seven months down the line, and the Skate Park is looking a lot better, a little dusty, not 100%, but better than it was and Caswell wants to monitor the park through summer.

The force of clean versus nasty continued and through the coordination of Skate club members and students Jarryd Lapp and Stanley McCray a multi-band concert, Sk8eraid, was organized for Saturday, April 22nd. The fund raising concert featured 11 Missouri bands. After all bills were paid the event raked in $1350.

“It is awesome to see youth in action and we will support them,” said Billy Dearing of Ghost in the Machine, one of the featured bands from California, Missouri.

The money will be used to resurface the Skate Park said Lapp, and since it was a welcome success by all involved, the club wants to make the concert an annual event to consistently and independently fund the upkeep of the park and install new equipment as needed.

So challenge met, is Caswell prepared to cough up what he promised? Yes, he says, though he’d rather wait till after the summer, since it’s easy to keep up appearances during the winter months when no one visits the Skate Park.

In any case, there is finally a bit of cash floating about and the Fulton Skate Club is planning to meet with the Department of Parks and Recreation in the next two weeks to discuss how to best use the raised funds.

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