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West Allis skate park set to open next spring at Radtke Park

With location selected, project design moves forward

Oct. 23, 2012

West Allis - A West Allis skate park has rolled forward, with design work already under way and a spring opening anticipated at Radtke Park.

That location, at 84th Street and National Avenue, was selected last week by the Common Council as the prime choice among the 16 sites examined by city officials this year. Alderman still must approve a design and construction contract to move the project to its conclusion.

No cost estimate is available yet. To fund the project, the city plans to use federal Community Development Block Grant money and a generous private donation, the source of which the city will announce later.

Alderman Marty Weigel, who chaired the Public Works Committee that recommended Radtke Park, said he's glad to see the skate park's approval, partly because it will help the city's revitalization efforts.

Good for community

He viewed it as an amenity that will help make young families see West Allis as a community that provides things for kids to do.

Weigel said it also should reduce the minor damage that skateboarders, who've had no place to skate, do to private and public property - such as along the concrete edges of the city's welcome sign at 70th Street.

"They do damage property not designed for skateboarding," he said.

He also predicted that it will be more reasonable for police to crack down on skateboarders who go where they shouldn't, given that the new park will give them a legitimate location. Once the skate park is built, police might be more inclined to write tickets instead of letting boarders off with a warning and orders to move on, Weigel said.

Why Radtke?

In choosing a skate park location, the city had several priorities.

First, because the city planned to use federal block grant dollars, the location had to serve low- and moderate-income families.

City officials also wanted the site to be highly visible, not only attract skaters but to make it easier to publicly monitor. Additionally, officials wanted a site that would have the least risk of conflicts with neighbors and other park users; be accessible by foot, bicycle and bus; and be centrally located.

All those qualifications fit Radtke Park, which the city planning department also noted is underused for much of the year.

Planners acknowledged that the park does have one drawback: to access the site, skateboarders have to National Avenue, which curves at the crossing to the site and limits traffic visibility. However, they felt recent road work has made the crossing safe enough.

"I think they did a pretty thorough job of vetting locations," Weigel said.

Design input from users

With design starting, input from skateboarders is needed now. "We want a park that the West Allis skate culture finds appealing," Weigel said.

From what he has heard, skateboarders in different locales like different things.

"There's no cookie-cutter plan" for skate parks, Weigel said.

Enthusiasts can offer input online through Facebook by searching for "West Allis WI Skatepark" and joining the closed group.

The design should be done before Christmas, Weigel said.

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