Skate board meeting draws many positive comments; those who disapprove worry about impact
The parks and recreation commission heard a majority of positive comments about the proposed skate park on Tillman Lane in the Ranchos during the meeting Thursday night.
A line of people offering public comments to the commission snaked through the East Fork Fire and Paramedic District Fire Station as a few skateboarders stood listening outside, their skateboards leaning against their thighs.
“We have to have a place where it’s safe, where it’s legal, and where there is control, so that these kids have a place to go,” said Corinne Cooper, who has a 14-year-old son who is an avid skateboarder. She said it’s hard for her to raise her son to obey laws when there’s no place he can legally skateboard. She, like many parents of skateboarders who spoke at the meeting, often drives her son all the way to Carson City to use the skate park at Mills Park.
“They need a place to skate without the constant threat of having their skateboards taken away,” she said.
Another mother of a skateboarder said the skate park is desperately needed, not just for the skaters but also for the business owners who want to get rid of them.
Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini and a representative from the Minden Rotary both expressed their support for the skate park.
Though 36 Douglas County residents stepped forward to voice their support for the park, the six residents who objected to the location of the park were adamant in their disapproval.
“I think they should have a park, I think it’s great, but what about the impact on the people who live there?” asked an irate Dino Natali who lives on Tillman, noting that the ideal buffer between a skate park and homes is 600-1200 feet, but his home will be no more than 30 feet away.
“It’s so easy to say ‘it’d be great to have a skate park’ when you don’t live there,” Natali said. “We moved away from the big city and retired to the valley to get some peace and quiet, and now it’s being taken away from us. Are you just going to ignore the impact on us because there’s a need for a skate park? If you don’t go home to the noise, the cars and the problems – which there will be – then of course you support the skate park.”
Natali had a petition signed by 74 homeowners near the skate park, asking that the location be changed.
Residents opposed to the park’s location cited concerns about the devaluation of property, the noise, the security lights at night and the safety of children crossing the street near the park. Each resident reiterated he was not opposed to a skate park, he was opposed to a skate park “in my backyard.”
Proponents of the skate park insisted the safety concerns were negligible.
“I don’t think there could be anything more dangerous than what they’re doing now, dodging cars in a parking lot,” said Vicki Bates, a representative from the Carson Valley Skaters.
A female skateboarder pointed out that the giant trucks that roar through Tillman, causing danger to kids crossing the street, must make more noise than the potential noise from a skate park.
Residents suggested Lampe Park or the fairgrounds as alternative sites for the skate park, but Scott Morgan, director of the parks and recreation department, said there is no land ideal for the site of the skate park with a 600 to 1,200-foot buffer between the residential area and the park.
“Location has always been the most critical issue for the skate park,” Morgan said. “It’s kind of a Catch-22. It has to be located near a residential area so kids can walk or ride to it, but it has to be far enough away that it doesn’t disturb residents.”
Morgan said the existing parks have even more residential areas, and the commission felt there was a compatibility problem with mixing park activities with skate park activities.
He said that although the commission has no other potential sites for the skate park in mind, it is open to all suggestions and will keep looking.
Before opening the meeting to public comment, Morgan discussed the plans for the potential park.
The 2.5-acre proposed facility would accommodate a skateboard park and dirt bicycle BMX play area with permanent restrooms and parking, a drainage detention/retention facility and a future volunteer fire station. The estimated cost of construction for the facility is $366,191.
The facility would be designed with landscaping to buffer noise, and boom boxes would not be permitted. It will operate only during daylight hours, and it will be unmonitored with rules of conduct and use posted at the entrance to the facility.
“We are relying on the majority of the users to help police the site, knowing it will be closed for a short or long period of time and affect everyone if something goes wrong,” Morgan said.
Morgan said the facility’s advantages include volunteer assistance, multi-use capabilities, funding availability, drainage capabilities and the response to a four-year identified need in Douglas County for a skateboard park facility.
The parks and recreation commission will meet again at 9 a.m. Aug. 21 at the firehouse to hear more public comment on the issue.
“What gratifies me is that everyone recognizes this as an important need in our community, even those who are opposed,” said Stan Lamb, chairman of the commission. “We see this as a priority.”