Park and Recreation Advisory Board Recommends Skateboard Park Location

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The six-year effort to build a permanent skateboard park took a major step forward at the Park and Recreation Advisory Board meeting Thursday evening.  With one abstention, the board voted to send a ranked listing of two locations to the city council with Riverside Park first choice, and Memorial Park second. They also asked the council to appropriate $25,000 from the park fund to build a concrete slab in the Riverside Park location.  At their October meeting they had tabled the motion on the site location in order to consider the suggestion that the skateboard park be part of the YMCA development. However, according to a memo from PRAB Chair, Nathan Knutson, that option would not fit the current needs.

In October,  the PRAB considered the document developed by PRAB members Neil Lutzky and David Hvistendahl which recommended the Riverside and Memorial Park sites. In April, they and Grace Clark had been charged to make a final recommendation for a permanent location.  For the next six months they gathered information, interviewed individuals and groups, toured skateboard parks, and held a community meeting. Mr. Lutzky and Mr. Hvistendahl prepared a comprehensive document supporting their recommendation. Because she disagreed, Ms Clark prepared a detailed minority report and recommended Babcock Park. At this meeting, she abstained on the location vote, and voted against the request for funding.

There was standing room only meeting in the meeting room of the Public Library.  A dozen people addressed the board, including neighbors of Riverside Park and citizens from the Memorial Park neighborhood, primarily speaking in opposition to the site in their area.  Former City Councilor Jim Pokorney cautioned that the PRAB has a responsibility to make a decision which is best for the whole town – that the parks in question are not really neighborhood, but community parks. Frank Meyer, a member of the Skateboard Park Coalition, thanked people for being there, and noted that there were a lot of viewpoints coming together. He said the coalition gives “full and total endorsement” of the Hvistendahl and Lutzky recommendation and they intend to build a cement park incrementally as funds are available.

The recommendation will now go to the city council.

In other business, Mr. Knutson led off the discussion of the PRAB priorities saying that being a de factopark department won’t work any more.  The board has in fact served as staff – as the work by the skateboard subcommittee illustrates – doing studies and making recommendations. Ms. Clark noted that maintenance of park equipment is being neglected because of lack of funds. Mr. Hvistendahl said there needs to be a line item for parks in the budget, staff and a park department.  Earlier in the meeting, City Administrator Tim Madigan sought suggestions for how the city should staff the vacancies left when Community Services Director Lynne Young, and Human Resources Department Manager retire.  PRAB member also took that occasion to point out the need for staff and funding.