Plans for Memphis skate park blocked

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The long-awaited plans for a $600,000 skate park are now on hold after a member of the City Council blocked the groundbreaking.

In 2008, the Memphis City Council set aside almost a half a million dollars to build a skate park somewhere in Memphis.  

The non-profit group lobbying for the park was planning to put at Glenview, but the councilwoman representing the district blocked the plan.

A skate park similar to those in California is what organizers with Skatelife Memphis had in mind when the Memphis City Council agreed to spend $440,000 on a skatepark back in 2008.

Aaron Shafer with Skatelife Memphis hoped to create more recreational activities for Memphis children.

"I'm trying to do stuff for the Memphis community, for the kids," Shafer said. "They just do not have enough recreational activities."

Last August, the Memphis Parks and Recreation Division chose Glenview Park as the site.  The problem is, no one told Councilwoman Wanda Halbert of the district.

"I just had absolutely no idea that this project was even being developed," Halbert said.

Halbert said in December, four months after the site was chosen, she received an e-mail from the Parks Director asking her opinion on a skatepark.  Halbert responded by saying she believed there were other, more important issues.

"We have many citizens losing their homes to foreclosure, losing their jobs," Halbert said.  "The last thing I want to do is start a fight here."

Shafer, unfamiliar with the political chain of command in Memphis, said he regrets not having an opportunity to pitch the idea to Halbert and her constituents.

Halbert said parks leadership, not Shafer, should have notified her.

Halbert does not have the final say on whether a skatepark would actually go here.  The entire city council would to vote on the matter.  But Shafer said if they are not welcome in this community they will move on.

"She issued a directive saying that she doesn't want a skate park in her district," Shafer said.  "I have to respect that."

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