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Family wants to build skate park in honor of son who died at 17

Posted at 8:20 PM, May 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-06 21:21:11-04

ATCHISON, Kan. -- When 17-year-old Joshua Kinsman took his own life, his family was shocked.

His mother, Pamela Cline, says her son was always happy and very outgoing. She describes her son as someone who loves music, his family and skateboarding.

Shortly after Kinsman died, his mother found a letter he had written when he was 15. The teen had written about his dream to build a skate park in Atchison. He’d even laid out a plan and a location - the vacant lot behind the Sonic.

“I knew that he had talked about it, but I didn't know he wrote a letter about it,” said Cline.

Kinsman never had the chance to put his dreams into action, but now his family is doing it for him.

In April, his mother and stepfather brought the idea to the city commissioners.

While city officials like the idea, they do have an issue with the location, specifically because it’s a privately-owned piece of land with a hefty price tag.

Public Works Director Clinton McNamee says the land alone would cost $80,000. Once you add in the construction of the skate park, insurance, maintenance and other costs, it would be well over the city’s budget for a project like this.

McNamee says the largest projects they have in the works right now are right around $100,000.

However, he believes that Kinsman’s family is going about this the right way. They’ve been talking to the right people and coming up with a solid plan.

The family has also gathered 1,400 signatures in support of the park.

McNamee says the Parks and Forestry board are completely in support of the idea. He says they’ve been wanting to get a skate park built for some time but things just haven’t come together.

The issue has always been location. The goal is to have a centrally located skate park so kids don’t have to drive to it, but there’s not much city-owned land that is centrally located.

McNamee says since there is so much support and he feels there is a need for this in the city, the skate park will be a focal point in the budget for 2019.

While the family says their hearts were set on the spot Kinsman picked out, they are open to other locations as long as it gets done.

"I think it would mean a lot to him but mostly it would mean a lot to the children that are still in this town,” said Cline.

The family will present their full proposal including budget and design at a meeting on June 18th.

Mcnamee says as long as the project gets support it should take a year to a year and a half to complete.