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Skating by: Huntsville’s Stoner Park makeover includes new rink 

HUNTSVILLE – The Huntsville City Council handled business concerning local parks at its recent regular meeting, passing items to begin moving forward or upgrading parks sweeping from one end of town to the other.

The approvals concerned building the nine-acre Hays Farm Central Park in the south, expanding and refurbishing the Huntsville Tennis Center in John Hunt Park and to continue with the renovation of Stoner Park in the north.

The latter approval was for a $2.3 million contract with Butler Construction for major upgrades and improvements at Stoner Park on Bragg Avenue.

The contract includes building an 85-foot by 185-foot skate rink housed in a 19,000-square-foot open air pavilion. The project is the brainchild of a group of local residents who approached District 1 City Councilman Devyn Keith with their idea.

“This is a unique moment for our residents,” Keith said. “Historically, marginalized communities have the impression that the ivory tower of City Hall doesn’t consider their needs and wishes.

“They made a compelling case, we listened, and their passion, knowledge and enthusiasm won us over.”

The facility will include restrooms and picnic facilities and connect to other amenities at the park, which include a playground, tennis courts, multi-purpose fields, football, baseball and softball fields.

Keith and General Services Director Ricky Wilkinson hosted listening sessions with residents to plan the skate rink. They say the residents educated them about roller skating, how it differed from inline skating and skateboarding, and why roller skaters prefer asphalt over concrete. 

“It’s been a tremendous experience,” Wilkinson said. “These residents researched facilities all over the nation and they steered the product you see today. It’s always great when we hire design firms with a lot of experience, but it is impressive when a community brings its passion and knowledge to the table.”

Construction is expected to take about one year.

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