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Wauwatosa committee approves $80,000 for skate park

Two-thirds of funding for facility in place

June 12, 2013

Dozens of skate park supporters jammed a City Hall meeting room Tuesday as the Budget and Finance Committee voted unanimously to spend $80,000 on the project in Hart Park.

Assuming Common Council approval, the city funding, together with the Jack Doyle Memorial Challenge Grant of $80,000, donated by Mike and Judy Doyle, means two-thirds of the $240,000 needed to construct the skate park are committed.

The challenge grant requires another $80,000 from Tosa Skateboarders United. Judy Doyle said the nonprofit group has collected $33,000 to date.

"If Tosa doesn't have a skate park, then the whole city is the skate park," said Tom Ertel, president of the city's Parks and Forestry Board.

More than 60 skateboarders — many of them carrying their boards — along with BMX bikers, inline skaters, parents and fitness enthusiasts crowded the room and gave testimony to the long evolution of skateboarding in Wauwatosa, from a renegade activity practiced by youth viewed as "punks" to a positive sport and a new attraction in the heart of the city.

"Jack Doyle said it better than anyone: 'We're not punk kids — we just want a place to play,'" said Mary Pruitt-Martinez, former manager of TSU.

Doyle, the guiding spirit of the skate park movement, was an avid inline skater. He died in 2006 at the age of 13.

Filling a gap

Pruitt-Martinez and others described the skate park as filling a gap in the city's recreational offerings. Everyone from infants to the elderly have a place to go and a way to play in Wauwatosa, but "there's a tremendous discrepancy when it come to teens and tweens," Pruitt-Martinez said.

"I really have a passion when it comes to this forgotten generation," she said.

About a dozen citizens spoke in favor of the skate park, including a few skateboarders of varied ages; no one spoke in opposition. The city's portion of the funding will come from money paid to the city — $425,000 to date — for the purchase by a developer of a portion of the city yard, where a multifamily development now stands. Using a portion of the money earmarked for park debt service for the skate park, part of the Hart Park master plan of 2007, was appropriate, said Finance Director John Ruggini.

The committee's deliberations on the spending included an attempt by Alderman Peter Donegan to attach an amendment using an additional $40,000 of the development money to bolster book and material acquisition for the Wauwatosa Public Library, an effort he has led since budget meetings last year. The $425,000 available is "completely discretionary," Donegan argued.

Alderman Craig Wilson, chairman of the committee, said the library issue was not on the agenda and out of place in the skate park discussion, and others felt the same. Wilson promised a discussion on the library funding at the next Budget and Finance Committee meeting. The committee did add $15,000 to the $80,000 to cover skate park maintenance over five years.

Fundraisers set

Tosa Skateboarders United have scheduled a HartFest Ramp Jam at 4 p.m. Saturday. On June 21, Leff's, Noodles and YoMama will donate a portion of their proceeds to TSU when it is mentioned upon ordering. And, on the Fourth of July, TSU will participate in Wauwatosa's Independence Day parade.

The Common Council will take up the skate park funding issue at its meeting Tuesday.

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