Plenty of people rolled up to the ribbon cutting for the skate park located around the SomerSplash Water Park complex in 2008, when it was being hailed as a great alternative to keeping skateboarders off of city streets.

But for that to work, skateboarders have to actually want to go there.

That's a problem, noted local skateboard enthusiast, part of the Skate Southern Kentucky non-profit organization here in Pulaski County.

"Not really, no," said Jones when asked if the conditions of the park were ideal.

"One has to have a car to get there. It's kind of out of the way. It's kind of dated. It's not real skater-friendly," he added. "Just the layout of the park isn't very good, the obstacles aren't very fun."

As such, it's not used with the kind of frequency the city might have hoped upon its development more than a decade ago.

"You might see 10 to 15 people at the skate park. Normally, there's not that many people out there," he said. "I don't like going to the skate park here because I don't feel like it's convenient. If i"m gonna go somewhere, I go to Lexington."

So Jones and Skate Southern Kentucky are working with Somerset Mayor Alan Keck to get a new and improved skate park located in the heart of Pulaski County -- downtown Somerset, within walking distance for many city teens who don't otherwise have a ride out to the water park complex on Ky. 2227.

"He's very encouraging about it," said Jones. "Some things that he really thought were great about it is that it works with his downtown development (goals), with his plan to put sidewalks from the college all the way through the city connecting everything. Also, he has a youth sports initiative. All these things tie into helping the skate park seem like a great idea."

Jones noted the target location will be at the Rocky Hollow Park grounds, up by the basketball court. The park would be about 16,000 square feet in size most likely.

"It's a wide open space that's not really utilized for anything," said Jones.

Keck said the location isn't "set in stone" yet, but the Rocky Hollow location "has been discussed," and he is high on the idea of having a skate park downtown.

"It gives our youth, or everybody, another avenue to stay active and have a recreational activity," he said. "It ties on perfectly with the vision for connectivity, increasing walkability downtown."

Several concepts for a design have been proposed. They would be made of concrete and steel materials, more environmentally friendly, and nearly maintenance-free, according to the proposal for the park.

The park would probably cost about half a million dollars. Jones said the city has been looking at grants, and Skate Southern Kentucky is looking to pitch in about $100,000 of the total.

To that end, Skate Southern Kentucky has planned a fundraiser to make available one-of-a-kind decorated skateboards through an upcoming auction.

"Last year, I actually did an art auction here in Somerset that benefitted Friends for Skateparks in Lexington. It raised about $1,500 for them," said Jones. "We've got another one here."

The idea is this: Ten skateboards have been given to 10 artists -- nine locals, including Nate Corder, Jacob Wilson, Amanda Bullock Vanhook, Soyyo Kwilliams, Amanda Brooks, Leila Ann Coppala, Courtney Ribeiro, Gabe Manninen and Lydia Jewel, and Louisville artist Ryan Case. They'll create "works of art" on the skateboards, noted Jones, and then the board will be gathered up and displayed at Jarfly Brewing Co. "by the end of October," for a month's time.

"We'll let people decide on which one they want to buy and do it by silent auction," said Jones. The goal is to raise about $2,000 that way. Another approach will be selling bricks with donor names on them at the park.

Jones said Skate Southern Kentucky is closely tied with Friends for Skateparks, which is assisting them as a non-profit organization. The board for Skate Southern Kentucky consists of Jones, Jimbo Hawkins, and Scottie Cook.

"We're all skaters that grew up here," he said, noting that they "had a hand" in developing the existing skate park by SomerSplash. "... I've been doing it 32 years. It's challenging, it's all about creativity and individuality. There's also kind of a lifestyle in the community. It kind of made me who I am, the music I listen to and that kind of thing."

If everything goes well from both the city's end of things and Skate Southern Kentucky's own fundraising efforts, Jones hopes for a groundbreaking date of spring 2020, and a possible summer 2020 opening.

And with a new skateboard might even come a renewed interest in skateboarding itself.

"There was a quote from a Parks and Rec guy in Bowling Green; he said, 'Until they built the soccer complex there, they didn't know how many soccer players they had,'" said Jones. "If you build a really convenient skate park, you can go on any summer night and see 100 kids."

Recommended for you