By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
Hard to know if a closer skate park would have saved Colin Anderson, but his mother, Casi Sprague, wants other local skaters to have one to more safely enjoy their sport.
"Colin and his friends went out Friday nights and skated around Orange City," she said. "They were all really responsible kids. The kids did well in school. They're good kids."
But on Friday, Feb. 8, Colin didn't make it home. He was hit by a truck as he crossed Volusia Avenue. The 12-year-old died at a hospital a few hours later.
Colin's grandmother, Debbie Thomas, said the family was devastated by his death and motivated to keep others from experiencing the loss of a child.
"I've had loss in my life, but never like this," Ms. Thomas said. "The grief is unexplainable."
Within days of his death, Ms. Sprague and others launched efforts to build the Colin Anderson Memorial Skate Park in Orange City. She said the growing group of supporters is examining whether to press city officials to put the proposed facility at Valentine Park, 1511 W. French Ave., to seek special exceptions build it on two acres her parents own in the 400 block of East French or to raise money to buy nearby land to erect it.
"Right now, it's torn between do we get the city to put it in a park, or get some land to put it there?" she said.
Ms. Sprague said she doesn't want taxpayers to pay for the proposed park's construction, but does want Orange City to take over its operation. She's planning various fundraisers to get the skate park built. She said Orange City staff members discouraged building a skate park at Valentine Park or on her parents' property.
City Manager Jamie Croteau said that while the city staff is sympathetic to Ms. Sprague's aim to give local youths a safe place to skateboard, there are building codes and budgets to consider, too. If the city approved a plan to run the proposed skate park, there were long-term maintenance and insurance costs to consider, City Manager Croteau said.
"Our funding is very, very tight, just like for most cities and counties now," she said. "It doesn't mean this can't be done at some time, but things are really, really tight."
The decision would fall on the Orange City City Council if Ms. Sprague took the proposal to it. Alternately Ms. Sprague said she may create a not-for-profit corporation to raise funds for construction and operation of the skate park.
The idea for building the park seems to be gaining some support. A Facebook page -- the Colin Anderson Memorial Skate Park page -- has gained about 700 followers in less than a month. Also, a change.org petition for the proposed skate park has about 700 signers. Ms. Sprague's niece, Brittani Bruno, started the petition.
Skate park supporters are planning to have a fundraiser on Colin's birthday -- Sunday, April 14 -- at Valentine Park. Ms. Sprague hopes to kick it off with a police-escorted skateboard ride from Orange City Elementary School, 555 E. University Ave., to Valentine Park. She said events are in early planning stages, but will likely include food, a deejay and raffles.
"We kind of decided as a group to kick off our fundraising and give ourselves time to speak to people we know about what the best way forward is," she said.
Ms. Thomas is seeking donations for a large yard sale to help fund planning and construction of the proposed skate park.
The sale will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at 485 W. New York Ave., Orange City. To donate items, call Ms. Thomas at (386) 775-3861.
Ms. Sprague said after Colin's death, numerous people, many of them strangers, sent her money. She's placed the $3,000 she received from well wishers in a trust fund that others can add to at Wells Fargo Bank locations. The account is the Colin Michael Anderson Memorial Trust.
There are two skate parks in West Volusia. The DeLand Skate Park is at Earl Brown Park, 755 S. Alabama Ave. Deltona's Youth Advisory Board Skate Park is at the Lake Butler Recreation Complex, 301 Courtland Blvd.
Mike Thomas, Colin's grandfather, said he's done some research into the costs of building skate parks. He said they can cost upwards of $500,000 to build.
"We're looking more at about $100,000," he said. "Hopefully, that's realistic to be looking at. That's after the research and development stage. That's just construction costs. Hopefully, we can get some engineers to give us their time and efforts."