Letter to the Editor

Trying something new isn’t easy; I experience it at dinner every week with at least one of my three children. So I can somewhat understand the angst that some may have about building a skate park at Maple Lake Park.

However, like trying a new food for the first time, you may find out it is actually good.

As a candidate for Mansfield City Council, I believe a skate park would be good for our community. After listening to the comments from members of the skating community, I understand why they need a place to skate safely.

I was never any good on a skateboard, and I honestly felt that skateboarding was dying until I took the time to listen to those who would use the park the most.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve visited several parks in the City of Mansfield. There are nearly 30 parks inside our city limits. In most of the parks, I’ve seen the signs of neglect from the six years the city operated without a parks system. Issues with sidewalks, worn playing surfaces and aged or broken playsets. Grills that need to be replaced, grounds that need to be landscaped, and bridges that need to be repaired.

The City of Mansfield is faced with two challenges. Create a plan to improve our parks while trying to find projects that can make a big impact and make our community better – on a limited budget.

At the July 2 council meeting, several residents shared their concerns about making repairs to the park before pursuing a skate park. A few others did say they were all for a skate park, just not in their neighborhood park. 

Before I took the time to listen to members of the skating community, I was in the camp that we should wait before constructing a skate park. Now, I think Mansfield should build it.

There is no reason why we can not do both — build the skate park and work to improve our parks system.

Why?

It’s nearly a shovel-ready plan. The designs are in the works, and soil samples are going to be done soon. Plus, new playground equipment will be coming to Maple Lake Park. 

The skate park it’s a project that has been proposed by the Mansfield Rising Committee. While you or I may never set foot on a skateboard, others will. We need to provide opportunities for all our residents.

The question still remains, how can we improve our parks system, sooner than later?

I would like to propose an idea that proved successful in Indianapolis. Lilly Corporation started a Global Day of Service in 2008 for its employees. In 2010, the Indiana Department of Transportation shut down a five-mile stretch of I-70 for an entire weekday, so Lilly employees (5,000 or so) could plant trees and flowers at interchanges ahead of the Super Bowl in 2012.

That initiative has turned into Indy Do Day where business from across the city sends their employees out of the office to do acts of service.

Could you imagine the impact we could have in improving our parks if even just 1,000 Mansfield residents rolled up their sleeves for the day to help fix a playset, paint a building, and improve the overall appearance of the parks? 

The end goal is one we can all benefit from, moving Mansfield forward. Our future depends on making this community a place where families can live and raise a family.

We have to think differently if we are going to make our community more attractive for young families to live inside the city limits. 

One of the many reasons I decided to run for Mansfield City Council is not only to represent the Second Ward, but also to support outside-the-box opportunities that will make Mansfield better. We can’t afford to turn away a segment of our young population, who have been very active in the process of government – attending meetings and sharing their personal stories on how the sport of skateboarding has had an impact on their lives.

If you are in favor of moving our community forward – contact your councilperson before their next meeting in August.

It’s time to stop kicking the can and embrace a project that will benefit our young adults, and make us a more livable city.

Jason Crundwell

Mansfield, Ohio

Jason Crundwell is a candidate for the Mansfield City Council – Second Ward.  You can learn more at crundwellformansfield.com or facebook.com/Crundwell.Jason.

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