"If you build it, they will come" was the famous line from the movie "Field of Dreams." During the years of effort it took to create the Elkins/Randolph County Skatepark, the saying could have been changed to, "If you build it, they will stay out of trouble."
At Thursday's Elkins City Council meeting, council members heard a funding request on behalf of the skatepark, a local facility that demonstrates just what a group that is willing to work can accomplish.
Alice Sabatino of Youth Empowered Solutions (YES) asked council to consider allocating money for improvements at the skatepark. Sabatino has been involved with the park since the beginning, helping YES become organized, receive non-profit status and raise $129,000 to build the park in what had been an empty field in Glendale Park.
Many local residents volunteered time and donated money to help make the skatepark a reality. Sabatino said YES even reached out to skateboard superstar Tony Hawk, who donated $5,000.
The skatepark opened in August 2008. Sabatino said Thursday that the park has helped local youth stay off the streets and become physically fit.
Not having a place to use their skateboards had been "criminalizing" the kids, Sabatino said, leading them to skate in public places where they got into trouble with the authorities.
"The kids told me years ago, 'Hey, if they're going to treat us like criminals, we're going to act like criminals," Sabatino said. "But since the park was built, that stopped immediately."
The skatepark draws kids in from other communities to the Elkins area, officials said Thursday, adding that the Buckhannon skatepark has closed, making the Elkins facility that much more important to youth.
Mayor Van Broughton, a longtime supporter of the skatepark, said Thursday he would refer the funding request to council's Finance Committee. Whether council decides to contribute to the improvements project or not, the skatepark is a great asset to the town, and a shining example to local kids that, if they put their minds to it, they really can make a difference.