There was a scramble for extra chairs Thursday evening as an unexpected number attended a community organization meeting aimed at building a skateboard park on property where a playground once burned to the ground in Grayson.

Appropriately, many in the crowd kicked their way to the gathering on their skateboards. The group of young people, parents and guardians agreed to adopt a new name within minutes of calling the meeting to order and will be known as the Carter County Skateboarding Association

Organizer Andy Tomaselli introduced guests and urged the riders and their supporters to increase their level of organization as they work toward their goal. Carter County Recreation Association President Dolf Fischer displayed an enlarged aerial map of the proposed skateboard park site, causing everyone in the audience to lean forward or stand for a closer view.

In response to a question from the crowd, Fischer said the proposed park would be “where the playground burnt” and offered his personal encouragement for the youth and adults to pursue grant funding from sources including the Tony Hawk Foundation. Fischer said the famous skater’s foundation grants up to $25,000 per skateboard park project, and added the proposed park in Grayson seems to meet all criteria for that money.

“You’re perfect for it,” Fischer said, noting qualifying factors including establishment in a low-income area.

The recreation association president also presented a feasibility study provided by State Rep. Robin Webb, which included plans for a “basic, basic, basic” skateboard park with a price tag estimated at more than $69,000. Fischer said it is important for the skateboard park supporters to demonstrate their commitment to city and county officials if they hope to see their plans realized.

“They’ve got to see grassroots support,” he said. “They have to see that you really, really, really want it.”

Tomaselli said the $25,000 maximum, which could be available through the Tony Hawk Foundation, would only be enough “to get the ball rolling,” citing a $350,000 cost to build a skateboard park with no bathrooms or lights in Wheeling, W. Va, $500,000 for a park in Athens, Ohio, and more than a million dollars for a highly-regarded skateboard park in Louisville, which Fischer described as “the coolest place I’ve ever seen.”

Fischer reminded the audience most grants require matching funds or in-kind support, before adding, “I know you can do it.”

Before the meeting began, Stephanie Wilson of Grayson pulled into a parking lot and allowed 12-year-old Alex Tarazon an opportunity to ride his skateboard.

Wilson said she encourages those in Carter County to support the proposed skateboard park, citing the recent loss of activities and locations for young people including a skating rink, a music hall and an arcade as well as a ban on “cruising.”

“I, myself, think we should give them something to do and a place to hang,” Wilson said. “Give them something to do and quit taking all their stuff away from them.”

Wilson said she believes there is a good chance local people and businesses will contribute money to the skateboard park project, citing strong parent and grandparent involvement in school activities such as athletics.

Carter County Skateboarding Association members plan to travel to Florence this weekend to visit a skateboard park. For more information about the group’s efforts, call (606) 475-9626.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at

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