The search is on for builder of Brent Barnes Memorial Skatepark

WELLINGTON NORTH – Several weeks of skatepark committee meetings with input from Arthur Public School students and youth committee member Jack Baker have culminated in a request for proposals (RFP) for the Brent Barnes Memorial Skatepark.

“We want a high quality product that the kids will love,” skatepark committee chair and Wellington North councillor Lisa Hern said.

The formal invitation for bids on the skatepark project is now out on the Wellington North website.

“There were a number of items listed in the RFP that the kids requested and we added them as a bare minimum that the proposals should include,” Hern said, adding the committee is “lucky” to have Baker as a “very impressive” youth member.

Getting to this point has been a long time coming, with the idea for an Arthur skate and BMX park conceived around four years ago by longtime Arthur resident and Lions Club member Brent Barnes.

Following failed efforts to raise funds to bring the park to fruition, an anonymous $100,000 donation announced in September changed the story.

“Every time I think about it, I just want to cry tears of joy because someone has done so much for this community,” Hern previously said of the donation.

Now the rush is on to see the skatepark—bearing the name of Barnes after his death in 2018—built by June 15, in time for Arthur’s 150th anniversary and Optimist Club Canada Day celebrations next year.

An original idea to have separate BMX and skatepark elements was shredded in favour of focusing on only the latter; the idea being current dollars would go further in delivering a skatepark kids would want to use.

With a $180,000 budget coming from donated and raised funds, the skatepark committee is hoping to land a bid providing at least two five-foot quarter pipes, grind rails, two fun boxes, a pump track and square metal rails for installation behind the Arthur Optimist Pavillion.

Chosen by the skatepark committee, the location at 308 Tucker Street is described in an RFP draft as “the hub for recreational activity in Arthur.”

Located on former fairgrounds—bordered by Tucker, Eliza, and Domville streets—the space is now home to the Arthur Arena and Community Centre, an outdoor pool and splash pad, three baseball diamonds, two pavilions, a playground, and curling club.

Up to three different 3D designs from each proponent will be evaluated (on cost, design and scheduling) by Al Rawlings, Glen Cheyne, Jack Baker, Lisa Hern and a yet unnamed township staffer, who all make up the skatepark’s evaluation committee.

The Arthur Lions Club will be looking after finding local companies to provide gravel and pour a cement pad for the skatepark’s base.

“We see a light at the end of the tunnel and I don’t think it’s an oncoming train right now, I think it’s actually the end of the tunnel,” said Lions Club member Al Rawlins.

The future 12,192 square-foot space will potentially displace the eight horseshoe pits used by the Optimists, who have requested at least six remain in some fashion.

Township staff have been directed to seek out alternative locations for the pits to be relocated.

When built, the skatepark will sit at least 10 feet away from nearby baseball diamonds and volleyball courts popular in summer and Wellington North councillor Steve McCabe has previously stated safety nets will be installed at two diamonds to protect boarders from batters with an extra good swing.

The Lions Club is still working on raising another $20,000 which would go toward adding more elements to the park, should their efforts be a success.

“We’re really advancing well, I think there’s probably still a few more decent sized donations [that] are going to come in over the next few months,” Rawlins said.

He’s confident there will be at least one company bidding but hopes for more to bring about competition and more competitive pricing.

“I’m looking forward to it because it’s been a long haul,” Rawlins said of eventually laying eyes on designs.

The window for design proposals to be submitted closes Jan. 18 at noon.