Plans to revitalize Borts Field brings mixed opinions on skate park
A park on Youngstown's west side that's seen better days could soon be revitalized.
Borts Field, that is over a century old, could be the home of a potential skate park after the community proposed the idea. The thought isn't coming without push back from people living nearby who say the skate park might not be the solution the city is looking for.
During Thursday's meeting hosted by 4th Ward Councilman Mike Ray, everyone in the room agreed the park needs fixed up but an idea of a skate park drew a variety of opinions.
"We have the same [skate park] example in Columbus. We have the same example in Cleveland," said one audience member. "We're almost regressive to not want to do these things."
Youngstown has never had an outdoor skate park. It's something pro BMX rider Nick Bruce always hoped he would see in the city. He credits indoor skate parks in Hubbard for giving him the space to develop his passion.
"I grew up riding on that," Bruce told 21 News. "If that didn't exist, I wouldn't be an Olympian right now."
Councilman Ray conducted a study that included mailers sent to homeowners within 1,200 feet of the park. "We wanted to make sure the residents who be impacted closely to the park had a chance to send in a survey or come to this meeting and voice what they want to see in the park. We acknowledge the park is not in a great state," Councilman Ray said.
Several homeowners who live just across the street from the park are against this proposed skate park idea. They told 21 News's Erin Simonek the park already brings in the "wrong crowd" and adding in this skate park would "just make things worse."
"We would like to see something like a baseball field," said Zora Grimm of Connecticut Ave. "Fix the track up, fix the parking, paint the railing where the steps or the pool was. Fix it up first. Who's going to take care of this skateboard park?"
Grimm said the park is not usable to surrounding residents with lack of upkeep and no ability to park. She said she will hear and see kids come through the park at all hours and trash the grounds. She added with recent crime happening around the area, her property value has decreased and the condition of the park will only diminish it more.
"We get homeless people in the park a lot," Grimm said. "They sleep on the benches. We do have kids that throw pop and beer bottles around the park and all-terrain vehicles come in and dig up the track."
Bruce understands residents concerns but sees this idea as a positive.
"A skate park can bring in all walks of life, no doubt about that," he explained. "But, it could give a lot of kids direction. Kids that don't feel like they fit into the traditional sports."
"If people want to use the skate park, that's fine. But, what's going to happen when at night, there's nobody there?" Grimm added. "Are they going to pay for somebody to sit there and watch it? They don't do that now. They don't do anything with it."
Grimm said previous playgrounds were destroyed with graffiti and a basketball court was also destroyed. She is concerned about a skate park when no one else is present at night. "Who's going to be there 24/7? All of my neighbors on Connecticut Ave. we don't want a park that's going to draw more disturbance. We want something that will bring young families in to make the west side nicer."
"This skate park would give kids an opportunity to find themselves and express their passions outside of the traditional sports," Bruce said. "It would mean a lot to see this come to Youngstown. Having somewhere to ride in Youngstown and enjoy a public park would be awesome and I'd comeback to the area a lot more often."
A splash pad and dog park were also some options mentioned by Councilman Ray. He'll now look at the data collected tonight to see what the best option would be with the Youngstown Parks Department. A follow up meeting will be planned with parks department in the following weeks. Ray hopes a plan is in place by summertime. "We want to have a functioning, viable park here for residents on the west side," Ray added. "We will make data driven decisions on what meets the demographic, community and resource needs. We'll let the data speak for itself to make those decisions on what makes sense for our community."
Several city grants could help fund the fixer-upper.