KEARNS — Plans to build a $1 million skate park in Kearns took a small step forward this week, but community leaders say the project still isn't ready for construction and time is starting to run out.

The county township received $2 million in Zoo, Arts and Parks taxes in 2006 to build a skate park and improve the Oquirrh park, but the more time that passes without the project's completion, the less the community will be able to do with the one-time grant.

"A million dollars seemed like a lot of money two years ago, but it's really dwindled," said Kearns Community Council chairman Chuck McDowell. "The challenge is, as the clock ticks, it costs more and more to do these projects. It's been kind of a slow, grinding process."

McDowell says when the Kearns Council first asked Salt Lake County for funding for the skate park, members proposed building a 30,000-square-foot skate park in Oquirrh Park on 4800 West that could draw national and international competitions. After two years of planning, the size of the park has been whittled down to 24,000 square feet, but McDowell says future phases of the park could add an additional 6,000 square feet and more parking areas.

At least one soccer field will need to be moved to accommodate the skate park, McDowell says.

The Kearns Council has regularly published notices of meetings in which the park is discussed, sent newsletters and advertised plans for the park in a community newspaper, but until recently the project didn't generate much interest.

Now residents in a nearby neighborhood are concerned the skate park could bring unwanted traffic through their quiet streets. More than a dozen residents attended a recent community meeting about the skate park to express their concerns, so the county and Community Council are planning to go "back to the drawing board" to try to resolve the issue, McDowell said.

Another public meeting will probably take place at the end of June to gather more public input, McDowell said. Plans for the park will also be posted on Kearns' community Web site,

The council hopes to finish building the park by the end of the year to encourage youths in the area to skate in an appropriate place, instead of on the street.

"This is a public safety issue to begin with," McDowell said. "The kids will do their skateboarding whether we like it or not, so we need to provide a safe environment for them to do that. That's my view."

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