.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

'SICK DESIGN': Skaters and non-skaters review conceptual plans for new park

-A A +A
By The Staff

The long-awaited plans for a community skate park are inching closer to their finality, after significant progress was made during Thursday’s open house to review the park’s conceptual design.Representatives from California Skateparks Inc., the design firm awarded the contract to build the park, were on hand to present the community with a working sketch of the park’s design, as well as to address concerns from local skateboarders and non-skaters. About 75 community members attended the meeting.“We want to move from a 30-percent planning phase to a 60-percent planning phase,” said Parks Division Manager Richard McIntyre during his opening statements. “I’m confident we can do that.”The controversial project, which has recently faced opposition from nearby residents, was presented to the public to discuss modifications to the existing design. McIntyre emphasized there would be no discussion of the park’s future location, adjacent to the Mesa Public Library – a decision finalized last June.“We had a little hiccup but the project seems to be back on track,” said County Councilor Ken Milder. “It’s always hard to do any public project without any controversy, but the concerns raised here will lead to a much better design.”Rob Loftis, a landscape architect from Albuquerque working in partnership with California Skateparks, began by showing the open house attendees a blueprint of the park’s would-be design. In his presentation, he addressed concerns relating to the park’s incorporation to the surrounding area, as well as safety and noise concerns voiced in earlier meetings.“We tried to mimic the idea of the lines and curves from the library into the skate plaza, so it doesn't look like we just came in and dropped it there,” Loftis said. “There’s an ongoing evolution of this design.”Some of the design considerations include allowing all existing trees to remain in their present location, relocating existing sculptures and memorial benches to the surrounding area, maintaining pedestrian access to the western perimeter of the library, and allowing access to the playground and parking lot.Blueprints of Loftis’ design were available at six tables, along with tracing paper that allowed concerned residents and skateboarders to make their own modifications. The changes were then reviewed in an open forum that allowed all groups to voice their opinion.“It’s good to have the young people involved,” said Paul Martinez, a local electrician. “They get involved in the process of government, they see how the community comes together and the park really becomes theirs.”During the discussion, residents raised concerns about the lighting scheme of the park, the safety of nearby pedestrians, the sustainability of the concrete used and graffiti-related problems that plague similar parks in other parts of New Mexico.Loftis responded by saying that his company would be eager to make any modifications needed to calm any concerns related to the safety and durability of the park, and that he would be active in working with city officials to get the design approved.Skateboarders who attended the meeting responded positively to Loftis’s design, and were eager to have the project finalized after months of delay.“Just build it soon, that’s all I want,” said local skateboarder Gabriel Priestley. “I graduate next year and I want to be able to use it before I leave.”“I think the design is sick,” another skateboarder said. “The park really has no limits.”The meeting concluded with positive responses from all parties, and young and old alike engaged in conversation about the park’s future. Some issues still left on the table included a decision about the park’s operational hours and the construction of a barrier between the park and the children’s playground.“This was excellent; it was a real constructive way to hold a meeting,” said County Councilor Fran Berting. “It was interesting to see the kids and neighbors adding to the design. People will get more comfortable with it as time goes on.”Construction of the park is expected to begin May 27, with an estimated completion date slated for Aug. 16. The Planning and Zoning Commission will review the modifications next month.