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Plan Could Pave Way For Skatepark In City Of Bingen

Formal vote not yet taken

Although a formal vote has not yet been taken, the Bingen City Council's wishes for its 2008 Economic Development Authority grant seem clear.

"We're leaning toward a park master plan for Daubenspeck Park," said Mayor Brian Prigel. "There is a pretty strong consensus from the council members. We started with wanting to build a skatepark, but the discussion turned to where would we put it, impact on the neighbors, how it would affect the layout for a possible community center and basketball court, and a few other things."

Prigel explained that a final vote on the decision was still pending.

"The council hasn't firmly decided this as the number one priority," Prigel said. "We'll put together a firm package for the next meeting."

At stake is how Bingen will use its annual grant from the Klickitat County Economic Development Authority, which makes community development funds available every year. The funds come from revenue the county receives from the regional landfill at Roosevelt.

The EDA grant would help pay for the preliminary planning that would lead to the building of a skatepark.

Although there is no set figure, each community's share of the landfill revenue is generally in the range of $25,000-$35,000 per year.

"If we do the study, we would also commit to eventually spending the money for a skatepark, which would cost approximately $40,000," Prigel said.

The overall study would also provide a conceptual plan for a community center in Bingen.

"It would be a needs assessment: How much space we'd require, the types of rooms needed, and we could later build a plan from that," Prigel said. "It would not be the actual design or pay for any building. But we would like to move the community center project forward. It's one of those big projects where we have to design it and find the money."

If the EDA board approves the city's suggestion, Bingen officials would send out a "request for proposals" from professional service companies around the region to do the study.

"We'd select a consultant, interview them, and negotiate a price," Prigel said. "Assuming everything goes as planned, we'd hope to have the plan in place by mid-summer of 2008, and start construction of a skatepark by next late summer or fall."

At a meeting earlier in November, Bingen City Council member Laura Mann said she wanted the city's EDA funds to go toward the construction of a park for skateboarders.

"My preference would be for a skatepark, but we probably can't get it together in a year," Mann said.

However, Mayor Prigel said the park master plan would be a necessary first step to pave the way for a skatepark.

According to Prigel, the actual building of a skatepark could be paid for from the city's Community Development Fund, which is built on proceeds from the city's sales tax.

Prigel pointed out that planning is essential before the physical construction takes place.

"This plan would be similar to the process for the downtown revitalization plan, and the initial design of the city's new fire hall as well," Prigel explained.

Prigel added that the facility would not be huge.

"The size would depend on the available money," Prigel said, "It would probably be smaller than the one in Hood River, but bigger than the one in Lyle. These things aren't real cheap."

The envisioned facility would be primarily geared to skateboarders, but rollerskaters and others could use it as well.

"Given the number of skateboarders around town, we believe there's a lot of interest. If the facility is good enough, it would attract from White Salmon and elsewhere as well," Prigel said.

With a Dec. 8 deadline looming, the decision will be finalized at the Bingen City Council Dec. 4 meeting, starting at 7 p.m. in the Bingen Fire Hall.

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