Parks and Recreation Board tackles skate park issue

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By Jennifer Garcia

During a Parks and Recreation Board meeting Thursday night, Board member Curtis Schultz suggested that the Parks and Recreation Department should give the County Council clarity on what they should put on the Nov. 4 ballot regarding the location of the skate park.

Board Member Megan Tripp agreed, by saying, “We’re failing the skaters if the issue falls off the ballot. We need something more concrete than a yes or no question to the downtown location.”

With that said, Board Chair Stephen Boerigter moved that the board recommend to Council that immediate construction of the skate park should be built somewhere at Ashley Pond, but parenthetically not at the library.

The motion was seconded by Shultz and then voted on, 4-1, with board member Kristy Keane opposing the motion.

In recent weeks, there has been some debate over the proposed location of the skate park. The youth want the location to be downtown, while some Los Alamos residents oppose the location near the library.

On Feb. 10 The Fuller Lodge Historic Districts Advisory Board voted 4-1 against the skate park site.

In addition, Library Board Chair Mary Barr made a motion during the March 3 Library Board Meeting, to submit a statement to Council via Council liaison Jim West, that the Library Board does not endorse the Mesa Public Library location for the skate park. That motion passed unanimously.

Los Alamos resident Mike Wismer presented a petition to the County Council during a meeting on Aug. 5, which requested the delay of construction of the skate park and asked that the skate park location issue be settled by ballot in this November’s election.

As a result of public outcry, the Parks and Recreation Department added the skate park to their agenda for Wednesday night’s meeting, in hopes of being able to make a suggestion to County Council.

A handful of people were present for the meeting held at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center, which included concerned citizens that were there to voice their opinions on the proposed site and to offer suggestions for alternative locations.

Talks on the skate park issue began with Parks and Recreation Board Member Megan Tripp wanting to know what the current issue with the skate park was.

“We want the Council to take a look at alternative locations, or put it on the ballot and let the people decide,” Wismer said.

Wismer suggested that the skate park should be built adjacent to a parks system.

The current location was chosen when Police Chief Wayne Torpey met with some Los Alamos youth to discuss possible sites for the skate park.

At that time, numerous meetings were held and other locations, such as FEMAville, were discussed but none of them were said to be as good as the library location. As a result, County Council moved forward with plans to build the skate park at the library location.

Parks and Recreation Board Member Beverly Leasure felt that North Mesa would be a good location for the park because it is by the middle school.

“Kids could go there after school,” she said.

Being that the skate park plans have been designed with the library location in mind, Board Chair Stephen Boerigter said, “You can’t take the design and plop it down. Would you have to move utilities? Would there be more earth work?”

Wismer said that reports have suggested places like Urban Park would be viable places to build, but the youth of Los Alamos wanted the skate park to be downtown, which is the primary reason Council stuck with their decision on location.

Concerned citizen Irene Powell was present at the meeting with a suggestion of her own. She provided a skate park alternative location that would place the park on the south side of the Youth Activity Center at 20th Street and Deacon.

According to her proposal, the YAC site is largely already excavated and drained, which would save construction time and cost; the site is more conducive to enlargement and less susceptible to use conflict; and the site is a convenient location adjoining the YAC, which is desirable to skaters.

“If we need to do something in the downtown area, this could be used. It’s a compromise where everyone will be happy,” Powell said. Los Alamos residents Jack and Colleen Hanlon were also on hand to offer some input on the skate park issue. “We have a petition with 500 names on it, signed by people who are saying they don’t like the location,” Jack Hanlon said. “I think there’s a lot of opposition to the current location.”

This item has been placed on the Council’s Aug. 19 agenda and will be discussed at the meeting in the White Rock Town Hall at 7 p.m.