Advocates prefer Jaycees Field for constructing a skate park

Members of a committee seeking to have a skate park constructed in the downtown Cumberland met with city officials on Tuesday to discuss the idea. Shown are four members of the committee following the meeting at City Hall on Tuesday. From left is Doug Widdows, Phil Scolaro, Jacqueline Mitchell and Cheyenne Jenkins.

CUMBERLAND, Md. — City officials are asking advocates for building a skate park at Jaycee Field to supply city engineers with conceptual drawings of the facility.

A committee seeking the construction of a skate park in the downtown area favor Jaycee Field, formerly known as Pogey Field, on Furnace Street in the city’s north end as their preferred location for the facility. The skate park advocates met with Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss and the City Council at City Hall on Tuesday to discuss selecting Jaycee Field as the site of the future skate park.

However, city officials raised some concerns with the location including the sites use in flood control.

“Jaycee Field is problematic not just because it’s in a 100-year flood plain but because it is the site of a floodway mitigation gate,” said Bobby Smith, city engineer. “The MDE (Maryland Department of the Environment) is all for the concept in a flood plain but it’s configuring the site so it doesn’t interfere with the floodway.”

Smith asked the skate park committee to submit a site drawing for the facility so they could be analyzed.

The skate park advocates have been consulting with Spohn Ranch of California, one of the leading skate park builders in the country. According to estimates, a 10,000-square-foot skate park could be constructed for $450,000.

The Allegany County government has pledged $250,000 toward construction of the park.

Advocates say the skate park will increase tourism and help young people stay focused and out of trouble.

Cheyenne Jenkins, president of the skate park committee, say the group has ruled out Constitution Park and the Mason Sporting Complex in South End as too difficult to reach by foot.

“We want this to be in a place that the skate park community are in favor of,” said Jenkins. “We think (Jaycee Field) would be a good idea because it already has existing restrooms and a parking lot so we wouldn’t have to add that to our budget.”

City Councilman Eugene Frazier said the city-owned field is one of the few fields in town that organized teams and neighborhood pickup games could be played. However, the advocates disagreed with the assessment.

“It is really not being used for anything at this point,” said Jenkins. “The dugouts are falling to pieces and the field has not been properly maintained. It is currently being used by four-wheelers and dirt bikes to go out (to) the Valley Road, and the gates are left open for them to do so.”

Jenkins said the group would like to keep the tree sanctuary area, basketball courts, playground and restrooms. “We will not tolerate crime or any negativity there,” said Jenkins.

Keira Shilling, president of the Western Maryland Jaycees, said the Jaycees support the idea and are willing to install a camera system for security at the site.

“We could have competitions, tournaments and shows there,” said Shilling. “We know how much it could pull in for the community. It is something that has been needed for a really long time. I want us to succeed as a community and this is something that provides another leg for us to stand on.”

Morriss said the support of the Jaycees is a positive and that the council is behind the basic idea.

“We are interested in figuring out the possibilities of building a park,” said Morriss. “We are with you on that, but let’s have the staff start digging into the the numbers and the engineering part at this point.”

Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email glarry@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter.

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Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email glarry@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter @greglarryctn.