Fred Demkowicz and Andrew Tapalanski love to hit the gaps around town, but as skateboarding and freestyle bicycle motocross (BMX) become more popular, more gaps are guarded with signs prohibiting the activity.

Fred Demkowicz and Andrew Tapalanski love to hit the gaps around town, but as skateboarding and freestyle bicycle motocross (BMX) become more popular, more gaps are guarded with signs prohibiting the activity.

"Whenever I see a 'no skateboarding' sign, I die a little inside," Demkowicz said.

"Hitting the gaps" refers to jumping over sidewalk or street gaps on a skateboard or bicycle.

There are few places the two Canal Winchester High School students said they can go to ride. When they do get the chance, they said, they are usually met with angry property owners and threats to call the authorities.

On a Sunday not long ago, Demkowicz said, he thought his luck had changed. There were no cars in the parking lot behind Shade on the Canal, one of the few spots in the village without signs, and he said he was having a great time hitting the gaps around the parking lot. The longer he was there, however, the more complaints he began to get from nearby property owners. He was threatened again with another call to the authorities.

"I just sat down and said, 'This is ridiculous. We need a skate park,'" he said.

Demkowicz, a 17-year-old sophomore, and Tapalanski, a 16-year-old senior, were invited to a Canal Winchester Village Council meeting last Monday, where council members listened to their request.

"Skateboarding and biking are becoming very popular nowadays," Demkowicz told the council members. "If you go into the schools, everybody's talking about the skate park."

Demkowicz bikes. Tapalanski skateboards.

"A skateboarding park would give us kids an opportunity to go somewhere to do what we want," Tapalanski said.

He said it's hard to count how many youths in the community are into hitting the gaps, but he assured council members that many are, including younger children.

"They're learning a lot more quickly than we did," Tapalanski added.

He and Demkowicz said the best place for a skate park would be at Roger Hanners Park, 540 Groveport Road.

Bobbie Mershon, who chairs council's safety committee, said she liked the idea and would like to make it happen. Then she asked the Tapalanski and Demkowicz if they were available for consultation.

"We'd be widely available to do what we can to help in putting it up," Tapalanski said.

The two boys said having a skate park at Hanners Park would be good because the park will soon have full access to a bike path and is located close to the downtown area.

"I think it's great to see the younger generation of residents here," Coucnilman Victor Paini said. "We need more resident input."

Council members had other questions for the boys beyond skateboarding and biking. Councilwoman Leah Turner wanted to know about their grades.

Tapalanski said he has a 3.5 grade point average, and Demkowicz said he has a 3.75 GPA.

"I'm pretty proud about that," Demkowicz added after the meeting. "I thought it was really great they wanted to include us."

Tapalanski said he was 12 years old when he first started skateboarding and 13 when he got his first skateboard.

Demkowicz started doing freestyle BMX two years ago after he saw a friend hit a gap behind the Huntington National Bank at 37 S. High St.

"I just saw him jump this gap and we've been doing it ever since," he said. "We were inspired."

Now the boys practice their hobbies whenever they can, but said they run into a lot of opposition throughout town. Having a skate park could help them avoid the complaints, they said.

"It'd keep me out of trouble," said Derek Hartman, one their friends.

Mershon said she expected the cost of the skate park to be about $10,000.

"I would imagine this winter we will start wanting to get a plan together, and Andrew and Fred are going to be essential for that," she said. "Having two kids into that kind of thing is important. There's nobody on staff as smart as they are."

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com