Indoor Skate Park Operators Seeking Zoning Approvalto Use Warehouse In W-B
WILKES-BARRE — The operators of an indoor skate park that opened at the Sports Dome in Plains Twp. in the spring are seeking zoning approval to move the park to a vacant warehouse in a residential city neighborhood for use this fall and winter, and into the foreseeable future.
The city Zoning Hearing Board will consider an application from Keystone Rampworks LLC requesting a change in nonconforming use from a commercial building containing 7,794 square feet of warehousing space to a commercial building containing an indoor skateboard, in-line skate, scooter and BMX park at a hearing next Wednesday.
The property is bordered by Jones, Forrest and Anthracite streets and Ricci Way in the Rolling Mill Hill section of the city.
Rampworks co-founder Mikki St. Pierre said the section of the warehouse that would accommodate the skate park is closer to Jones Street, but the entrance and parking area patrons would use is off Forrest Street, closest to the alley. There is off-street parking to accommodate 53 vehicles, she said.
“We’re crossing our fingers that everything looks good and neighbors are OK with it,” St. Pierre said.
She said using a section of the Sports Dome worked out well for the organization and patrons this spring and summer. But with soccer season starting soon and teams vying for space, Rampworks wouldn’t be able to afford the steeper fees for occupying an entire field area at the dome seven days a week. The lease there ended Sept. 25.
St. Pierre and co-founder Jeff Mushell hope to re-open a skate park at the Sports Dome in the spring while continuing to operate the facility in Wilkes-Barre if the zoning board approves their request.
St. Pierre described the warehouse as “kind of odd” because the ceilings are 15 feet high, which is optimal for accommodating patrons’ use of ramps, but beams traveling across the ceiling limit usable space to about 12 feet, which is the minimum needed to accommodate use of smaller ramps.
But patrons “would prefer that over not having anywhere to ride over the winter, so we’re going with it,” St. Pierre said.
So if the zoning hearing board approves the request, St. Pierre and Mushell would continue operating a skate park at the warehouse into next spring and summer for younger, less-experienced patrons who wouldn’t use larger ramps, and reopen a park at the Sports Dome in the spring for older, more-experienced patrons.
“That way, parents aren’t so concerned about their kids being run over by the big kids, and the big kids can ride without the little kids getting in their way,” St. Pierre said.
St. Pierre and Mushell have a goal of building an indoor skate park facility on land near the Sports Dome, but they didn’t raise enough revenue over the past five months to fund construction. They did raise enough, however, to rent a section of the warehouse.
St. Pierre said 632 individuals patronized the park at the Sports Dome this spring and summer, with an average of 10 to 16 riders per day. She said the Wilkes-Barre facility probably would operate 3 to 9 p.m. seven days a week and estimated business during the winter would probably be double what Rampworks saw in the summer.
Also on the zoning hearing agenda:
• H&N Investments LLC is seeking a temporary-use variance, not to exceed 18 months, to establish a partially improved on-grade general parking lot at the former Hotel Sterling lot at rear 23-25 N. River St. and 14-28 N. Franklin St.; and variances to waive sectrions of the zoning ordinance related to required screening and grading, pavement and drainage.
• Tijuana Best is seeking a special exception to operate a home-occupation day care service for six children at 92 Dana St., a variance to waive two parking spaces for the proposed use, and a variance to increase the 20 percent floor area limit devoted to a home occupation to 34 percent.
• Global Auto Repair is requesting a variance to permit a 100 percent expansion of a nonconforming use for an accessory parking area to be used for an existing auto repair business at 330 E. Northampton St., and a proposed used auto sales business limited to five vehicles; a special exception to change a nonconforming use to include a used auto sales business with the existing repair business; and a variance to waive all requirements of the off-street parking section of the Zoning Ordinance to create an unimproved accessory parking lot for 15 vehicles, including five vehicles for display.
• NEPA Rec Center wants the board to rescind stipulations pertaining to a parking lease agreement with the Martz Group that the board approved in a July 19 letter and accept a shared parking agreement between NEPA Rec Center and the Martz Group submitted at the June 20 zoning hearing.
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IF YOU GO
The Wilkes-Barre Zoning Hearing Board meets next at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 17 in council chambers on the fourth floor of City Hall, 40 E. Market St., Wilkes-Barre.
Learn more about Keystone Rampworks at keystonerampworks.com. You can also follow the organization on Facebook and Instagram. Donations toward construction of a stand-alone building can be made at gofundme.com/keystonerampworks.