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Chief seeking more support for skatepark

Tim Sutherly

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By Alex Bridges

Strasburg's police chief says Town Council could help draw more support for a proposed skatepark in Trent Williams' memory.

Chief Timothy Sutherly asked council members at a committee meeting Tuesday if they would support the Tribute for Trent Skatepark. A show of support, even without funding, could help attract more donors to help build the skatepark, Sutherly said Wednesday.

Trent Williams died of cancer on July 29, 2012 at age 8. Recognizing a need for a skatepark in town, Sutherly and Trent's mother, Jennifer Williams, started work on a skatepark in the boy's memory. They presented their proposal to council almost a year ago. Now organizers say they want support from town leaders that could give the fundraising a push.

Town Manager Judson Rex said Wednesday the Public Safety and Recreation Committee agreed to ask staff members to draft a resolution of support. Council would address and consider adopting the resolution. Rex said council likely could take action on the resolution at its October meeting.

Organizers have raised approximately $3,000 toward the cost of the skatepark.

"It could be more and that's the importance of this resolution because people are reluctant to write checks if they perceive it as the possibility it could be going into an empty well," Sutherly said.

While someone might buy an item at a weekend fundraiser, Sutherly said some people likely would not give a check for a significant amount to the cause without any certainty that the project would reach fruition or unless the town supported the goal.

A resolution of support would not tie any town revenue to the project, Sutherly said.

"They're just basically acknowledging our efforts and saying there is a need for a skatepark."

Sutherly told council that the Strasburg Fire Department and the Strasburg Rescue Squad have committed to donating some money to the project. The agencies have not decided how they would donate the money, Sutherly said. Representatives of several churches in town also have expressed an interest in giving money for the skatepark.

The police department also can use some money from its asset forfeiture fund. The department receives money from federal law enforcement agencies when they seize assets from convicted criminals.

A local man who helped put up basketball courts in the town park has offered to help by providing materials and labor to the project, Sutherly said.

Organizers are looking at two possible sites for the skatepark -- Kline Stadium owned by Shenandoah County Public Schools near the Strasburg Mennonite Church, and town property next to the riverwalk and east of Strasburg High School. The latter site would make a skatepark easy to access from the school and the riverwalk, Rex said.

Anyone interested in donating to the skatepark project can make a check out to the Tribute to Trent Skatepark. Organizers have an account set up for the skatepark fundraising effort. Donations are tax deductible.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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