By Christian Ashlar
Beginning with an article in the Nov. 7, 2019 edition of The Press, Weakley County residents were introduced to Morgan Scherfel, Chris Presepio, Aiden Long and Memphis Riggs. These four BMX enthusiasts approached Martin Mayor Randy Brundidge with a proposal to build a skate park. In the Nov. 27, 2019 edition, Press readers were informed the four were given space on the 2020 docket where they could present their proposal in person. Last week all four young enthusiasts were present when the Martin Parks and Recreation Committee held its Jan. 21 meeting.
Tiffany Riggs, mother of BMXer, Memphis Riggs, put together a comprehensive Power Point. This presentation outlined critical criteria for parks and recreation committee members. Project Gears and Grinding, the title of the presentation, began with overall statistics of skate parks.
Such a facility would be utilized by 37 percent of Martin’s population. Pre-teens and teens comprise the majority of this percentage. The overall number of persons utilizing the park could be higher, since it would not be restrictive to just Martin citizens. Park workers in Union City’s skate park cite many visitors in their own park are from Martin.
An adoption model approximation for the skate park put the cost of building at $45 per square foot. For the proposed size, this total comes to $200,000. This figure is a large one, on its surface, but Riggs and fellow parent, Jacquelyn Scherfel, offered to the board the idea of personal fundraising. Many other such parks began with crowdsourcing funding so the suggestion is plausible.
Other areas in Tennessee boast similar parks to the ones Riggs and Scherfel highlighted in their proposal. Portland, Shelbyville, Smyrna, Oak Ridge, Athens, Memphis and neighboring Union City all have skate parks for their young people to enjoy.
Martin Parks and Recreation Committee members gave the parents and their children their full attention during the presentation. After, they addressed a few of the concerns for the park. Following cost, a primary factor in building the park would be its location.
Wherever the park is built, it would need to be accessible by bike, skateboard or within walking distance. Issues of liability and insurance have been mentioned from the beginning, but they are not as prohibitive as they once were. Logistics of how the park could be maintained were new issues discussed. At the conclusion of their presentation, Riggs and Scherfel thanked the board for their time.
They also extended thanks to community members who have helped spread their message. Each of the skate park kids — Scherfel, Presepio, Long and Riggs — also thanked the board for their attention and the ability to attend the meeting and speak. Some members of the board, in turn, thanked them and commended them on their initiative and fortitude.
What happens, in regards to the skate park, is still being decided. Many of Martin’s city committees will need to continue the debate between them to determine whether or not a skate park is feasible. Until such a decision is made, the wheels of Project Gears and Grinding are still in motion.