By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MASON - J.J. Bailey and his friends would like to have a place here where they are welcome to do what they love most: skateboard.
More than 1,400 middle and high school students have petitioned the city to build a skate park here, so they don't have to find rides to places such as Middletown.
"We try to skate as many places as we can, but we always get kicked out," said the 13-year-old, an eighth-grader at Mason Middle School. "The places we get to go are getting less and less."
Mason's 2003 budget allocated $29,000 for a skate park design, but City Council never approved an ordinance to spend the money. While the finance committee has not recommended a skate park in the 2004 budget, Councilman Peter Beck, who chairs the committee, said it is recommending an examination of the park space to see what options are available.
The 2004 budget is to be approved Dec. 8.
"It's not that we're opposed to a park," Beck said. "We just wanted more information."
Youngsters have been skating in front of stores, the library and even on benches in front of the high school. But business owners or police officers will frequently tell them to go elsewhere, Bailey said.
A couple of times a week, teen skaters said they head to Middletown's Baker Bowl Skate Park. But many have to depend on their parents to get a ride.
"I ask my students all the time, what isn't there to do in Mason?" said seventh-grade science teacher Mark Campbell, a skateboarding advocate himself. "There's basketball courts, soccer fields, track tennis courts, volleyball venues, lacrosse fields, bike paths, swimming pools; yet there is a void. There's really no place to skate."
Some 9.7 million people ages 7 and older participated in skateboarding last year, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, a retail trade group.
One option is that the city team with a neighboring community to build one, Beck said.
"On the average day, a skate park will get more usage than a bike path," said former Mason councilman Jim Fox. "We need baseball and soccer fields, but ... I believe a skate park is just as much a bang for the buck."
Greater Cincinnati skate parks
As Mason contemplates construction of a skate park, here are other places skateboarders can hit:
Florence: Florence Skate Park at Kentucky 18 and Ewing Boulevard (www.florenceskatepark.com)
Ollie's Skatepark (indoor), 8171 Dixie Highway
Hamilton: Joyce Park
Lebanon: The Zoo Skate Park, 1699 Deerfield Road at Ralph J. Stolle YMCA (www.countrysideymca.org)
Miamisburg: Miami Township Skate Park at Miami Meadows Park
Middletown: Baker Bowl Skate Park at Smith Park, corner of Tytus Avenue and Verity Parkway
St. Bernard: St. Bernard Skate Park at Ross Avenue Park
Springdale: Sessions Skate Park (indoor), 32 W. Crescentville Road
Sycamore Township: The Rock Boards, Bikes and Blades (indoor), 8855 Blue Ash Road (www.therock3.com)
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