Ranchos skatepark scrapped
Though not over yet, discussions about a Douglas County skateboard park had a happy ending, or at least an ending that most agreed with.
The Douglas County Parks and Recreation Commission decided Saturday morning, after hearing numerous public comments, to look for a new site for the proposed skateboard park. A new site, commission members said, would allow other facilities to be built along with the skateboard park.
Though members of the public came to voice their opinions about the proposed park, in the end, most came to a consensus about the action that should be taken now.
The commission decided to consider alternatives to the Ranchos site that have not been discussed in the past.
County-owned properties that have been discussed for a skateboard facility include Stodick Park, Lampe Park, the Douglas County Fairgrounds, C.C. Meneley Elementary School, Ranchos Aspen Park, Ranchos Conifer and Birch parks.
If the 30.5-acre parcel across the street from Lampe Park is conveyed to the county, the recreation commission may approach the county commission about using part of the land for a skateboard park and an inline hockey facility. But the recreation commission can only consider that land “if it ends up in county hands,” said Scott Morgan, community services and parks and recreation director. “It’s a big ‘if.'”
Twenty-two acres of the parcel were designated for public facilities, part of which the recreation commission would want to use for the two facilities. But the property has not yet been offered to the county.
Members of the public supported this idea, acknowledging the need for not only a skateboard park, but other facilities that can be used by other segments of the population.
“This site has some very strong possibilities, not only for a skateboard park, but also for other facilities like an inline hockey facility,” Morgan said.
“As a taxpayer, I’d like to see this $500,000 meet more than just skateboarders’ needs,” said Patty O’Sullivan, a Topaz Ranch Estates resident and proponent of the skate park.
She wore a shirt, along with others attending the meeting, that read, “Support a Local Skateboard Park.”
Even though she has been in support of a skateboard park for many years, she feels the decision made by the commission is the best for the community.
Others like O’Sullivan who feel the skateboard park is long overdue, also expressed their approval of the commission’s decision.
Recreation commission member Stan Lamb has been trying to get a skateboard park in the area for almost six years and expressed his concerns about putting off the issue even more. But after hearing public comment and the arguments for looking for a new location, Lamb agreed with the other members to search for a site that would offer more than just skateboarding facilities.
“There is no bigger proponent of a skate park in this room,” Lamb said.
“I think that we should table this, put it on the back burner,” said chairman Kelly Gardner. “I’m sorry to the kids. It’s politics, it’s red tape, it’s government.”
Gardner said going ahead with the Ranchos facility would be like putting a “Band-Aid on a head injury.” Instead, the commission should consider looking at other, centrally located sites that everyone could access easily.”
At the Aug. 5 skateboard park meeting, Dino Natali, a Ranchos resident, approached the board with a petition with 74 names of other residents opposed to the park.
“Very obviously, we will fight this because we are homeowners. It’s the American dream that your house is your castle,” said Natali, who lives on Tillman Lane.
Natali and other Tillman Lane and Patricia Drive residents were happy that the commission decided to look at other locations.
Those who were unhappy with the decision, which could set construction back six months, feel a skateboard park is necessary now.
“Since when is building a park where kids can play their sport hurting an American dream?” asked Katy Theumer, 17, a member of the Douglas High School Peer Court.
“We have to give (skateboarders) somewhere to go. Stan (Lamb) is correct, we have to give them something from this community. Action right now is really imperative,” she said.
Other youths who may have agreed with Theumer did not speak up. Teenagers, male and female, came to the Saturday morning meeting with skateboards and safety gear to hear the fate of the much anticipated facility.
“When one (youth) shows up we know that there are 20 or 30 behind them,” Gardner said, adding that many are afraid to speak in public and fear that their opinions don’t matter.
The commission will bring back a report on possible locations for the skateboard facility by October or November.
Commission members said that even though they will be looking at other sites, construction of the facility may not take longer than if it were built at the Ranchos site.