Payson's young skate boarders and in-line skaters might soon have a new place to practice, if a proposal by the Town Parks and Recreation Department is approved by the Town Council at this week's meeting.
Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind was on the agenda (no results at press time) to request the council to release $55,000 for the development of a skate park at Rumsey Park.
Schwind and his staff, under direction from the P& R Board, propose to convert the asphalt Rumsey Park basketball court - a rarely used 1000-square-foot area - into a skating facility.
The money for the project would come from a grant the Town Council funded last year to hopefully match a similar one from the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund.
The Heritage people didn't meet the Town proposal and the $55,000 has been on the side burner.
The move to build the new facility received a boost at a Parks and Recreation Board meeting Sept. 22 when Payson school's resource officer Dave Blalock addressed the board regarding the need for a skate park.
Blalock said the popularity of skating has increased dramatically and local business owners are burdened by the skater's presence in their parking lots.
At that meeting, Schwind assured those in attendance he was willing to back the skate park and the project had been on P&R's to-do list for some time.
Council member Ken Murphy said he also would support the project and hoped local business owners would do the same.
More from recreation
In other P&R business, at least one local resident is upset that the department changed the pitching format in the girls 12-years-and-under softball league from live pitching to a pitching machine.
That resident's protest was heard at the September meeting.
Payson High School assistant coach Cheri Brennan agrees with the decision of the recreation department to use machines, saying that at that young level live pitching only serves the pitchers.
Recreation Coordinator Beth Kreider said in live pitching, there is seldom enough action to improve infielders and outfielders throwing and catching skills because some batters don't attempt to hit the ball knowing they will probably be walked by inexperienced pitchers.
With a pitching machine, there is plenty of hitting, running and throwing which helps all the players improve their skills.
Schwind said he believes that it is more beneficial to have the majority of girls hitting, fielding and throwing rather than teaching a select few to fast pitch.
The P&R Department did agree that parents of 12-year-olds may move their daughters up to the 15-year-old league which uses pitchers.
Once moved up, however, the girls can't move down.
It's true. Former UCLA and Los Angles Laker great Kareem Abdul Jabbar is in Whiteriver helping coach the Alchesay Falcons boys basketball team.
Show Low coach Gary Mendenhall says his daughters were at Whiteriver for a volleyball game a couple of weeks ago and spotted Kareem walking down a school hallway.
Awestruck, the girls asked for his autograph and he politely obliged.
His presence has drawn some huge crowds to East Division hoop games this season.