Skate park fight officially over

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By Jennifer Garcia

 For children and teens in the community, the grand opening of the skate park can’t come soon enough.

This is a project that has been long coming for the youth of Los Alamos. It’s also a project that has met resistance from community members concerned about the location in front of Mesa Public Library and the problems that might arise from such a pairing.

Two of those concerned citizens are Los Alamos residents Jack and Colleen Hanlon. In August, the Hanlons filed an appeal in an attempt to stop the skate park from being built in front of the library.

On Monday, their fight officially came to an end, as the case was dismissed in District Court.

After many meetings, a signed petition and an outcry from concerned citizens for the County Council to put the location issue to referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot, the council decided in August to push forward with plans for the skate park at the Mesa Public Library.

During that meeting held in White Rock, citizens representing both sides of the issue, as well as youth from the community presented their arguments for, and against, the location of the skate park. After hearing everyone who wanted to voice their opinions, council voted to proceed with the skate park plans instead of putting the issue to referendum.

During that meeting, Council Vice Chair Robert Gibson made clear his position on putting the issue to a public vote.

“Referendum is a powerful tool in democracy. In the grand scheme, this is a relatively small issue. It doesn’t rise to the level of importance that it should, to go to referendum. It will mean two more months of being distracted. It distracts us from the municipal building,” Gibson said. “The best thing we can do is put this issue to bed, accept the petition, thank those involved and consider the issue closed.”

During that meeting, Council Chair Jim Hall said that council had looked at about 13 other possible locations for the skate park, but the library location was the best suited for such a facility.

Councilor Nona Bowman made it clear that she wanted to wait the necessary 60 days for the results of the SWMU testing at 20th and Trinity, another proposed location, to come back from the state, however, the other six councilors seemed eager to put the issue to rest.

“We have new information and we should evaluate it. I’m not concerned with the cost. I’m concerned that people are comfortable with the site,” Bowman said. “Four boards said (the library) site is not appropriate and that bothers me.”

In the end, the council voted 6-1 in favor of proceeding with the MPL location.

Following that meeting, the Hanlons declined to file an injunction to stop construction of the skate park, citing cost as being the reason for their decision not to push forward with legal action. In the document filed in District Court on Sept. 22, there was no explanation for the Hanlons’ decision to have the appeal dismissed.

County Attorney Mary McInerny said the Hanlons do not have to give a reason for dismissal.

“I was happy to sign the request for dismissal,” McInerny said. Calls to the Hanlons seeking comment on their decision were not returned.

Construction of the skate park continues at Mesa Public Library, with pouring of the concrete to begin either Monday or Tuesday of next week. Completion of the park and the grand opening are scheduled for late October.