$164,000 Facility Opens As Officials
And Youngsters Celebrate The Day
By AMY ROSE
"This gives me hope," skateboarder J.J. Hudson said Friday morning at the opening of the new Greeneville Skate Park.
The 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Hardin Park site was attended by an estimated 100 community leaders, skateboarders and their families.
Among them was Sherry Melton, a stay-at-home mom who has worked for the past two-and-a-half years to get a skate park built in Greeneville.
"Sherry has really believed in this skate park," said Matilda Green, a supporter of the project who welcomed those in attendance. "She has taken this vision and turned it into a reality."
The result is a 10,000-sq.-ft. concrete park with ramps, rails, stairs, ledges and other structures where skateboarders are allowed to skate away from vehicular traffic.
"Skateboarding saved my life," Hudson told the crowd. He explained that he does not enjoy organized school sports, and skateboarding is the activity that keeps him out of trouble.
Skateboarder Shane Stills said the sport keeps young people off drugs. He urged the younger skaters in the crowd to stay off drugs and make skateboarding "your new addiction."
Greeneville Mayor-elect Laraine King wore one of her son's T-shirts that featured the message "Skateboarding Is Not A Crime."
She recalled almost 10 years ago when her son, Kyle, asked the then mayor for a new skate park in Greeneville.
She also brought her son's autographed poster of professional skateboarder Tony Hawk to show the local skaters the proper protective gear to wear.
"This is your place," King told the skaters. "Be proud of it because you made it happen."
Green recalled when she read a letter to the editor written by Melton in the Oct. 4, 2005, edition of The Greeneville Sun.
The letter, Green remembered, told of the need for a local skate park -- "a straight-forward problem with an achievable solution."
Since that time, Green said, "We have seen this community come together to put a project in motion for the ultimate benefit for the youth of our town."
Green said Melton worked diligently to request funds from the city and county governments and to seek donations from businesses and individuals.
She presented Melton a bouquet of flowers in appreciation for all her hard work.
Melton, president of the Greeneville Skate Park Organization, thanked the mayors, aldermen, county commissioners, business leaders, and individual donors who contributed to the project.
"We are truly proud of all that has been accomplished and look forward to all the joy and happiness it will bring to our community and its children," Melton said.
Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles recalled his first encounter with Melton when she came into his office and sought the county government's support of a local skate park.
"This is a prime example of people coming together for a good cause," Broyles said.
Greeneville Mayor Darrell Bryan said, "This is a great day for all of our kids and families here in Greeneville and Greene County."
Bryan said the new skate park was a group effort of the community and the city and county governments,. He thanked the Greeneville Parks and Recreation Department's employees for their work with the project.
During the ceremony, about a dozen skaters anxiously awaited the moment when they could roll onto the new skate park.
After the ribbon was cut, Melton declared, "Kids, go skate."
A dozen quickly turned into about 20 skaters who seemed unaffected by the sweltering heat.
They ranged in age from five to 48 years.
The event also included live music scheduled until 9:30 p.m. and drawings for more than $500 in prizes.
The Greeneville Skate Park Organization started having community meetings in late 2005. Melton made her first presentation to the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen in February 2006.
Both the city and county governing bodies voted in July 2007 to allocate $50,000 each for the project.
The Tony Hawk Foundation donated $10,000 for the project.
A total of approximately $164,000 was raised, according to Melton.
Overseeing much of that fundraising were Mike and Nata Jackson.
Original plans called for a $175,000 skate park with a larger "bowl" or an area with a deep indention in the concrete surface.
When about $154,000 had been raised, the plans were adjusted to include a smaller bowl, Melton said at the groundbreaking ceremony in March.
Since then, Melton said, an additional $10,000 has been donated, and a concrete pad and pavilion for spectators has been added.
Suburban Rails Inc., of Ohio, was the general contractor for the project.
Final grading, cleaning and landscaping, along with construction of the pavilion, is planned in the next few weeks, Melton said.
Activities at the skate park will be overseen by the Greeneville Skate Park Organization.
Skaters will be required to sign a written form and to wear a helmet while they are using the skate park.
For more information, call Melton at 639-0060.