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Skate Park design up for review

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By Katy Korkos

The notion of a skate park for local youth has been bandied about for years, but this week the public will be able to see what the park might look like.The Parks Division will hold an open house to review the conceptual plans for an “Urban Plaza,” which is intended to provide not only challenging obstacles for skateboarders, but also spaces that could be used by the general public.The open house will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers, 475 20th St.After many months of delay, while a vocal public weighed in on the proposed location in front of Mesa Public Library, the project is now on a fast track with the issuance of the design/build contract to California Skateparks after the county council’s Feb. 12 decision to go ahead with that location. “We’re hoping people will come and react, and give us input,” Community Services Director Stephani Johnson said. “Council made it very clear that the public should be given every opportunity to review the plans, to ensure that all of their concerns about safety and noise issues are addressed in the design.”Johnson said that she was really hoping to have as much community involvement as possible with the design of the skate park. She said she had asked people who spoke at previous public meetings, both for and against the park’s location, to attend Thursday’s meeting, in an attempt to rally community-wide support for the park.The skate park, budgeted at $500,000, was first approved by council in June 2007, but just as a contract was brought to the councilors for approval in January, a petition holding more than 300 signatures of local residents opposed to putting the park in front of the library was presented to council. The petition put the project on hold until council could consider the points raised in the petition.That meeting and the Feb. 12 meeting saw dozens of people engaged in a lively debate between skaters eager for a place to skate and nearby residents who felt that the park is too close to homes, the tot lot and the library. “No matter where you put it, you’re going to hurt some feelings,” one skater said. “You’re hurting my feelings by not building it.”Colleen Hanlon, who, with husband Jack Hanlon, devoted many hours to finding an alternate site for the park, said, “The library site does not have sufficient community support.”The Feb. 12 vote by council to proceed with the park passed in a 5-to-2 vote, with Councilors Jim West and Nona Bowman voting against placing the park in front of the library. “I wish the two groups could come together,” Bowman said. “I would even like to evaluate some more sites.”West said at the time, “I wish some kind of compromise could be made. I hate to see something that so divides the community.” He added that he wished the park proposal had been through the Parks and Recreation Board before being presented to council.Community Development Director Rick Bohn said the site plan for the skate park would be heard in a public hearing at the Planning and Zoning Commission like any other building project, before construction can begin. “The Planning and Zoning Commission reviews the Site Plan, not the selection of the site itself, and it applies the site plan review criteria listed in the development code to reach a decision,” Bohn said. P and Z may approve, deny, or approve (the site plan) with conditions. As always, the PZ advertises the hearing and sends notices to property owners within 300 feet of the site.”