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Skating the issue

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By Katy Korkos

Los Alamos County Council revisited its decision to have a skate park built in front of Mesa Public Library when it met on Tuesday evening. After a grassroots effort spearheaded by Colleen and Jack Hanlon resulted in a petition with 324 signatures from people opposed to the library location, council acknowledged the strong opposition to the site and decided to direct staff to look at an alternate site, on the south side of the Community Building, between the parking lot and the building. The motion passed in a 5-to-1 vote, with councilor Ken Milder absent.“I think we need to look at this alternative site, and look at a proposal,” said Councilor Jim West, who has been replaced as council chair by Jim Hall.West added that he had received 230-240  e-mails from people opposed to the library location, and only a total of four e-mails from people in support.“It’s just not the right place,” West said.Of the 16 people who spoke on the skate park during a public comment period at Tuesday’s meeting, none was opposed to building a skate park in Los Alamos. The location of the skate park was the source of contention, and the speed with which a park can be completed was the foremost issue on the minds of skateboarders. People of all ages spoke, with many of the youth and some adults in favor of the library location, and several adults in favor of the alternate location near the Community Building.Skateboarders seemed to be losing faith in the adults who have the power to approve a location for a skateboard park. “I feel disappointed and let down, and I think I speak for skateboarders,” Elliott Marcille said. “I don’t think you really understand how long this is taking.”A second skateboarder echoed Marcille’s comments, saying, “I feel like this is taking forever, and I’m really disappointed.”The $500,000 cost of the park is in the county’s budget, a location near the library was approved by council  June 26, and the  request for qualifications that went  out after the Oct. 30 council meeting asked that the chosen contractor be able to complete the project by June of 2008.With the council’s decision Tuesday to direct staff to issue a new request for proposals for the design and construction of the location at 20th and Trinity, the timeline will be set back by a minimum of nine weeks, according to county purchasing agent Jose Carreño. Carreño added that the bid California Skateparks had submitted for the library location would be good for 90 days from the date it was submitted.“We’ll have to start all over,” Parks Division Manager Dick McIntyre said, when asked what the effect would be of examining a second, alternative site for the park in the grassy area between the Community building and the parking lot along Trinity.Only councilor Robert Gibson voted against issuing a request for proposals to look at the alternate site.“The primary issue here is location,” Gibson said. “We’ve heard comment on the impact, but the Tot Lot, the Farmer’s Market and pedestrian traffic to the library would not be disturbed. I’d like to see us move forward and get a site this summer.”