New park doesn't get many patrons - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New park doesn't get many patrons

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October 3, 2006

Albany -- If you've visited downtown Albany in the evening, you've probably seen skaters in the parking deck or on sidewalks, but have you ever seen them in the skate park built specifically for them?

One City Commissioner is concerned the project, which cost about a half million dollars, was a waste.

Albany Riverskate is closed on Tuesdays. But even if it were open, you might not see much of a difference in attendance.   "Five, six kids at best. We don't do nothing. That's why we're not open all week," says Skatepark Operator  Kevin Jones.  

Jones leased the park from the city, in hopes he would turn a profit. "It's a challenge. It's a challenge to get the kids in here. We want to be open as much as we possibly can, but at the same time we want to be open and turn a profit."

He is, but not by much. It certainly isn't enough for him to quit his full-time job. "The problem of the location is we're here by ourselves, we're not close to anything."  

The park is only open four days a week, and excluding Saturdays only three to five kids per day ever pass through this gate.

"I'm very disappointed about the attendance of the skatepark," said Commissioner Bo Dorough, who opposed the skatepark from the beginning. "It was an investment of about half a million dollars. I had concerns at the time the city allocated those funds and obviously we need to do more, if possible, to increase attendance and participation at the skatepark."

But since the city gave the money to pay for it, he's not giving up on its success. "Now that we have it, we need to do whatever we can to increase participation," said Dorough.

And Jones says he's working on that, holding competitive events, some of which have drawn crowds of about 200 kids. "I don't think it's a waste of taxpayer dollars. I think it gives the kids a place to come and stay out of trouble and a good safe place to be."

Even if that place, right now, isn't quite as popular as he had hoped.   The skate park opened in January. Kevin Jones hopes to do more advertising and event planning to draw larger crowds.

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