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In the discussion of a new skate park in front of Mesa Public Library during Wednesday’s Planning & Zoning meeting, Commissioner Ann Wadstrom described the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board as “the organization pushing for this location...”
JJAB Chairman Alan Kirk takes exception to that characterization saying Wadstrom’s remarks are either “misinformed or the result of a misunderstanding.”
“JJAB had nothing to do, as a board, with the skate park location,” Kirk said during an interview Monday. “Our focus is on ensuring kids get the programs and services they need.”
Council approved the funding for a new skate park back in 2004 for the FY2005 budget, he said, and the project lay dormant until Police Chief Wayne Torpy resurrected it soon after becoming chief in early 2005.
“The county had already started this and what we did discuss was that we felt this was a worthwhile project for the kids but we refused to take a formal position on the location as a board. We encouraged members to talk to the other groups they belong to in support of the project in general,” Kirk said.
There have been two presentations to JJAB regarding the skate park, he said. One was from the police department a-year-and-a-half ago and the other was following the council meeting a few months ago when the project was put on hold. Councilor Mike Wheeler was the liaison to JJAB at the time, Kirk said, and he briefed the board on the project.
Kirk also wanted to straighten the record regarding Wadstrom’s remarks that, “If there's any conflict of interest, it’s a member of the county council who’s married to a member of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.”
Council Chair Robert Gibson is married to Lori Heimdahl Gibson, but Kirk said she is not a member of the board.
“Lori is a phenomenal volunteer who has never been on the JJAB board. She has contributed hundreds of hours volunteering her time on projects for kids. Lori is currently working on JUNTOS, which is a program bringing together the youth of our community with the youth of Española.”
The skate park issue was not an initiative of JJAB, Kirk said, adding that he did not attend any County Council or P&Z meetings on the subject.
“We were not interested in where they put the skate park,” he said. “We only encourage that it be completed and that was the only position taken by the board.”
“I’m glad they didn’t take a position — that’s to their credit,” Wadstrom said during an interview Monday afternoon. “I was given the wrong name of the committee and was told it was JJAB but I know very well that some of the people pushing for the skate park are on the board and are on a committee that’s working for the park.”
Wadstrom mentioned that someone Monday morning inquired of the county about the steps necessary to do a referendum on the skate park issue. The person was told a referendum could not be done, she said. “I think there will definitely be an appeal on this (P&Z vote),” Wadstrom said.
Wadstrom also spoke of a resident in 2500 Central, the neighborhood adjacent to the proposed skate park location, whose home, “was vandalized and all the lights around the house were shot out.”
Wadstrom said she believes that the people speaking out in opposition to the skate park are not opposed to the construction of a new skate park but are opposed to the location in front of Mesa Public Library.