FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (May 14, 2009) - Seven-year-old Gretchen Stephens - donning a helmet, elbow pads and kneepads - looked through the bars of the fence at the new Holes 'n Rolls park, waiting for the skateboarding course to open.

"This place looks really awesome," she said.

Her dad, Gunnery Sgt. Michael Stephens, Marine Corps liaison at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, said the family has been to the new park every day since its soft opening in April. He used to skateboard in his younger days and now teaches his children. Before the opening of the park, they could only skateboard in their neighborhood on post. Gretchen said the skatepark is safer.

"It's pretty hard (outside the park) because there's always cars and the ground isn't level," she said. "There's always danger."

Stephens said he's willing to risk a few scrapes on his children while skateboarding so they can get some exercise.

"They're only going to learn by getting bumps and bruises," he said.

Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation conducted its official opening May 6 for the new skatepark and 18-hole miniature golf course, Holes 'n Rolls. The park, directly behind the Post Theater on Grant Avenue, is paid for by families who have used other FMWR facilities, said Donna Shinn, FMWR director.

"This is built by Soldier dollars for military families," she said. "We just turn money over for it."
Shinn said construction was supported by the Army Family Covenant and Army Community Covenant. Last fall, Kaaz-Lexeco Construction Companies and Geiger Ready-Mix, both Leavenworth companies, provided donations of concrete and labor. Kaaz provided the labor to construct the facility and the location to mix the concrete. Geiger provided the concrete materials.

"This is a perfect partnership," she said. "This is how it's supposed to work."

Jeff Honey, outdoor recreation director, presented awards to companies and employees who helped with the construction. In addition to Kaaz and Geiger Ready Mix, thanks were given to Armed Forces Bank, Aquasis Services, Crockett Electric, Turf Design and the USDB. FMWR employees Ray Spurlock, Ed Zink, Mike Moore, Frank Goddard, Gary Drake, Rick Crocket, Jason Hickey, Larry O'Donnell and Larry Eddy were also thanked for putting in long hours to build the park. Air Force veteran Randal Pierce, who came up with the park's name, and Youth of the Year David Tracy unveiled the park.

Shinn said safety was a high priority for the park. FMWR has implemented several ideas to contribute to safety, especially at the skatepark. The park has tightly controlled hours that are supervised, Shinn said. The park has a high security fence, which separates the skatepark from the mini golf course. There are no lights at the park, so it closes at dusk. During May, those hours are 4-8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. In June, those hours will change from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

Also, helmets and pads are required to enter the skatepark, even for children using rollerblades. Rentals of helmets and pads are available.

Shinn said coordination with the post Emergency Services was also helpful - military police have Holes 'n Rolls on their regular patrol route. She also said employees supervising the facility all have CPR training. The facility has a working phone and first-aid kit, with a defibrillator on the way, Shinn said.

Shinn said a 90-day review of the park would be conducted. Families using the park can also use the Interactive Customer Evaluation survey to share concerns or praise of the facilities.

Stephens said the children themselves are careful about safety, too. Older, more experienced skateboarders enjoy teaching the younger ones, he said, and help watch out for their friends.

Aiken Harki, 8, and his father, Chaplain (Maj.) Brian Harki, enjoyed the miniature golf course. Harki said he and his son were able to walk to the park from their house on post.

"It's an awesome opportunity for families to get together," he said. "We need more things for them to do outside instead of sitting around playing videogames."

For more information about the park, call 684-2726.

Page last updated Thu May 14th, 2009 at 16:20