Ribbon cut at newest Niles attraction

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- What started out as a petition submitted by a Ring Lardner Middle School student at a city council meeting in November 2001, has in less than three years become a reality.
The result of that petition is the brand new 15,900 square feet, $360,000 skate park that in a short time has become a great attraction for the City of Niles while giving skaters and roller bladers in the area a place of their own.
Mike McCauslin, Mayor of Niles, gave only a short speech at the official ribbon cutting ceremony at the skate park Saturday, but used his time to thank those who have been instrumental in conceptualizing and building the skate park.
He recognized Kaser-Spraker Construction, who built the skate park, Lawrence Moss &Associates, the California-based company which designed it and Selge Excavating, who prepared the area used for the skate park.
He thanked the city council for their support, especially the skate park committee, who at Saturday's ceremony were represented by amongst others, 2nd Ward council member Dan Vanden Heede and Kevin Brazo.
McCauslin also recognized some of the city officials who have done a lot for the skate park.
The large crowd who attended Saturday's ceremony, however, didn't just get to hear the mayor's speech and see the cutting of the ribbon by the public works director.
Several semi-professional roller bladers from around Michigan were invited by community development director Ganum to do a demonstration to show spectators how some of the skate park's many obstacles and features can be used.
Muskegon-based in-line skater Josh Jones probably surprised the crowd the most when he on his second attempt completed a back flip using a three-foot concrete bump as a launch pad, executed without a helmet. Though their use is suggested at the park, helmets are not required.
Coulston, having cut the ribbon and seen what the in-line skaters were capable of doing, said based on the feedback he has received, the skate park has turned out wonderfully.
He said no matter what time of the day it is, as long as the skate park is open, and weather permitting, there always seems to be someone there.
Although the skate park is now open, Coulston said there a few things left before the area around the skate park is complete.
In the future, he said, the city will try to create a parking lot with 38 parking spaces alongside the skate park on Front Street.
However, he hopes to see the parking lot completed within a few years.
What will be put in soon, however, is a new public pay phone right by the skate park, Coulston said.
That should help getting in touch with parents and friends or just in case someone gets injured while using the park, he said.

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