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Elkhart man working to open skate park

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ELKHART, Ind. – A Michiana man wants to turn a property he recently bought into a skate park.

Last year, Elkhart business owner and resident, Rob Smead, bought a three acre plot of land near C.R. 45 and Florence Ave. in a tax sale.

Smead now wants to turn the wide open, grassy space into a concrete jungle for skate enthusiasts in the area.

“As a skateboard enthusiast, I just thought this is a really awesome place to build a skate park,” said Smead.

Smead and his friends skated all around Elkhart as kids. However, they often got into trouble with neighbors and business owners for shredding on private property.

“Growing up as a kid in Elkhart, we never had good places to skateboard,” said Smead.

Decades later, Smead still loves the sport and wants to provide a safe, fun place for people of all ages to skate.

“When you pull off a massive trick or you learn something new, you know, you try a trick 50 to 100 times before you finally nail it, when you finally nail it, it’s like a huge sense of accomplishment,” said Smead. “Your friends are like, ‘Woah man can’t believe you did that!’ It’s just always trying to outdo the guy or girl that you’re skating with, so it’s just a really competitive thing against other people, against yourself.”

Smead recently designed a prototype of the park with a California based company. According to Smead, it features elements that both very and street skaters would like. He estimates it would cost around $400,000 to build the park. Smead thinks all of the money could be raised through crowdfunding.

“I never get bored when I got to other cities, but I’m constantly bored in Elkhart,” said Smead. “I mean all you have is corn fields and there’s nothing for kids to do here except get in trouble. For a kid that is full of energy, they need outlets to burn that energy off. [It] keeps them out of trouble, keeps them safe.”

Smead is putting together a proposal for the Elkhart Planning and Development Commission.

“We’re right by the Concord Mall area,” said Smead. “Concord Mall is kind of emptying out so I feel like something like that would be good, a revitalization to it, to the local area right here.”

He says if the commission approves the project, he would like to build the park then donate it to the Elkhart County Parks Department.

“It gives the local kids not just in Elkhart but Goshen, Nappanee, Michigan, South Bend, all the surrounding areas, you know, it’s going to bring a lot more people here,” said Smead. “It’s good for the local businesses to have that crowd here that exposure and it keeps the kids off the streets, it keeps them from damaging property, keeps them in a safe and controlled environment.”

Smead also started a Change.org online petition to garner the community’s support.

To sign it, click here.

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