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GRGID gets behind search for skate park

Michael Schneider

Break out your kick flips and McTwists, the Carson Valley Skaters have finally found a political entity to support their efforts of eventually building a skate park in the Carson Valley.

At Wednesday night’s Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District meeting, the GRGID board voted unanimously to support the efforts of the 75-member skating group’s quest to find a suitable spot for the construction of a skateboarding park facility.

The vote came after the board watched a video on the success of skateboard parks across the county and listened to testimony from various community leaders and parents of young skaters on the importance of a skate park in the Carson Valley.

Douglas County Sgt. Stan Lamb addressed the board telling them he was at the meeting wearing four different hats, all of which proclaimed support for a place for skaters.

Lamb, speaking as a member of the sheriff’s office said at first he was wholeheartedly against a facility for skateboarders.

“Four years ago, I was dead against them,” said Lamb. “I thought they were troubl-makers but the vast majority of them, I never saw.

“The kids (who skated) with problems would have had problems anyway. I have been absolutely persuaded this is a very legitimate sport. I would relate it to the game of golf: you compete against yourself, it requires skill and you can improve with practice.”

Lamb said he was also speaking as a member of the parks and recreation board, a long-time Ranchos resident and a father of children who may use a skating facility one day. Lamb said, in each of his positions, he supports the construction of a facility.

“The (negative) stigma aggravates me most,” said Lamb. “Members of the sheriff’s department are wholeheartedly for the skate park.”

Lamb said the majority of skaters in Carson Valley live in the Ranchos so, naturally, it is the best place for a park.

“We’ve always prided ourselves as being a little city and we take care of our own,” said Lamb, speaking as a Ranchos resident. “This board is the ideal conduit to make this happen.

“The positive influence it would bring would be a message you care.”

Patty O’Sullivan, member of the Carson Valley Skaters and parent of two young skaters, told the board there are currently about 2,200 kids who go to school in the Ranchos. She said that, according to her surveys, about 30 percent either ride skateboards or rollerblade.

“If we built a park, then another 30 percent would use it.”

After unofficially hearing there was board support for the construction of a facility in the Ranchos, the discussion shifted to where the facility would be built.

The GRGID agenda item specified that it should be built on land that was recently approved for sale by GRGID to the county. This land, the future home of a paramedic station and sheriff’s substation among many other possibilities, is located on Tilman Lane behind Gorman’s Ranchos Market.

While the board is in support of building a skate park, some board members said that the new county land is not the place for it.

Chairman Bruce Nystrom said he was concerned about noise from the park bothering the surrounding neighborhood and the speeding problem on Tilman, putting skaters traveling to the facility in danger.

“The Tilman residents don’t even want a fire department out there,” said volunteer Ranchos fire chief Nystrom, telling the group the county land could house a training center for volunteers fire fighters. “And I think we have a better reputation with the community than skaters do.”

Other possibilities for sites in the Ranchos include Conifer Park across the street from C.C. Meneley Elementary School, and three GRGID-owned parcels of land: one on Blue Rock, another on Carmel and a third located opposite the GRGID office on Mitch.

Of those alternative sites, the board said they were most supportive of the Conifer Park site.

Morgan said the county’s master plan would have to be amended to include the construction of a skate park there, but that wouldn’t be a problems as it is amended all the time.

However, much to the chagrin of the skaters’ group, Morgan said a skate park at the site opposite C.C. Meneley would be at least two to three years away.

“Conifer could be an ideal location,” said Nystrom, citing a lack of housing in the immediate area. “It’s my suggestion.”

O’Sullivan said that was too long to wait for a skating facility as there is an immediate need, but she may have to wait as board treasurer Beverly Page agreed with Nystrom.

The only other option open to the skaters would be to convince the surrounding residents of one of the three GRGID-owned properties to support a skate park in their neighborhood.

O’Sullivan said the acquisition of a site is the only sticking point now as she said she can garner plenty of community financial help for the money needed to construct the facility.

“As far as I’m concerned, any parcel in the Ranchos is available to you if you can just overcome the neighbors,” said trustee Victor Hyden. “It’s that important.”