WATERLOO — The city plans to move its flood-damaged skateboard park to higher ground.
The Waterloo Leisure Services Commission is planning to abandon the current facility in Exchange Park and build a new skate park out of the flood plain near the Joe Straub Memorial Field at Park Road and Fairview Avenue.
Riverside Skatepark was constructed in 2002 but suffered heavy damage in the record 2008 Cedar River flood. It was repaired before being damaged again during floods in September 2016.
City officials have been unsuccessfully trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for the estimated $90,000 in damage while skate park users have grown increasingly frustrated with the delays.
“With the new ordinance the city has for flood plain development we wouldn’t be allowed to put that skate park back into Exchange Park even if we could find the $90,000 to repair it,” said Travis Nichols, Leisure Services project manager.
The proposed site for a new skate park is just a half-mile east of the existing location but is technically in Touchae Park. A triangular area on the south end of the Straub baseball diamonds is on the dry side of the flood control levee overlooking the Waterloo Boat House.
“It’s already got ample parking,” Nichols said. “It’s got a bathroom. It’s still kind of part of Exchange Park. It’s got a trail system that connects to downtown, if they want to go downtown.
“It also keeps it out of the residential areas,” he added. “Most residential areas are all fired up for a skate park until it’s in their park.”
Leisure Services Director Paul Huting said the City Council has approved $75,000 in general obligation bonds to help replace the skate park, which won’t be enough to build a new one.
“I don’t think we’re particularly optimistic about FEMA coming through with $90,000 or any amount,” Huting said. “There is interest in this community from a number of (funding) sources in helping out.”
Nichols and Huting will ask the City Council’s finance committee Monday to approve $5,000 to hire Los Angeles-based Spohn Ranch to develop a conceptual plan for the new skate park, which will include getting input from local stakeholders.
“The initial conceptual design is just so we can go out and get grants,” Nichols said. “It’s to the point where we really need to get the ball rolling on it.”
Meanwhile, the current skate park would turn into a flat concrete surface when the damaged skate park features are removed.
“Our initial thought is to put in pickleball courts,” said Mark Gallagher, Leisure Services recreation services manager. “You could fit three there pretty easily.
“It’s a good slab,” he added. “There’d be some work to do, but we could get it there pretty easily.”