ARTHUR - The focal point of nearly three years of fundraising by the Arthur Lions Club, the Brent Barnes Memorial Skatepark is set to open in 2022.
The park will be located on the grounds of the Arthur & Area Community Centre, between the baseball diamonds. It will be named after long-time Lion’s Club member and former Arthur fire chief, Brent Barnes. Barnes, who kick-started the initiative, passed away in 2018.
“We want to do it in memory of him, so it means a lot to get it done,” Lions member Al Rawlins said.
The new facility will also be important for local youth.
Rawlins said he sees kids skateboarding on the street, downtown and in parking lots in Arthur and the pastime is “dangerous enough,” without having to worry about traffic.
Initially proposed as a skateboard and BMX park, complete with a pump track encircling skateboarding jumps and rails, along with a nearby BMX course, the Lions have scaled back their original vision to meet their goal of installing the facility by summer 2022. Its opening will coincide with the Village of Arthur’s 150th birthday.
The new plan is to install the central skateboarding features on a concrete pad next summer. Other elements like the pump track could be added on as future phases, dependent on funding. The Lions are also considering creating a BMX course weaving between trees at the park using members' own machinery.
“We thought we’d given ourselves a long lead time of three years to raise funds and that didn’t happen,” Rawlins said, explaining the club lost around a year and half of valuable fundraising time because of the pandemic.
“A drawback of how we raise funds it seems is most of our fundraising activities revolve around food in some way or another and so of course with COVID, that pretty much wiped us out,” Rawlins said.
Rawlins said the club has raised around $90,000 of their original $200,000 to $250,000 goal. By the spring, with drive-thru chicken dinners and other fundraising efforts planned, they hope to be up to $125,000.
Information about upcoming fundraisers for the park can be found on the Arthur Lions Club Facebook page.
Alison Sandstrom, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com