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Trying to save the skatepark

What do we have for the kids in Brainerd to do? That was the question Nila Patrick posed to the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Board during its meeting Monday afternoon following the announcement of Jaycees Skatepark being officially closed with the equipment being auctioned off.

“Please don’t do this, kids in this town need this skatepark,” said Patrick, a local business owner who noted that skateboarding played a large role in her own son’s life. “Can’t we find a place to make this work? I want to do everything I can to help make that happen.

“I can make things happen and you can make things happen.”

After concerns were raised following excessive vandalism and damage in February 2012, the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Board locked the gates and closed Jaycees Skatepark until further notice on March 27.

But following a story in the Brainerd Dispatch that sparked the community, the parks and recreation department was flooded with an outpouring of community and nationwide support to help to get a skatepark back into Brainerd.

Adam Olander and Greg Eberly, co-owners of Kindboards Shop, a local skateboard shop in downtown Brainerd, took to social media for a cleanup of the park and worked throughout the spring months with Parks and Recreation Director Tony Sailor and the parks department for another solution other than closing it down.

A nationwide presence was also felt in Brainerd with the help of nonprofit organizations such as California Skateparks and the Tony Hawk Foundation — programs designed to help aid towns in the construction and fundraising of skateparks around the world — helped to keep Jaycees Skatepark open.

Sailer announced that the skatepark would remain closed with the equipment to be auctioned off during the Dec. 3 Brainerd City Council meeting.

Vice-chairman of the board, Barb Egan, said that the board tried to keep the skatepark open but it came down to a liability issue.

Patrick requested the city hold on to the skatepark equipment while she works to develop a plan to present to the board. She said she is working with newly elected council members Gary Scheeler and Chip Borkenhagen and will be discussing it during a public community meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Senior Center.

The board motioned to hold off on the equipment bid for 90 days, with bids due on March 18 to be discussed at the March 25 meeting. Board members approved it 3-2 with Jackie Burkey and Egan voting against the motion.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).