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Skatepark advocates disappointed

by Merrie Leininger

Advocates for a skatepark in Douglas County were disappointed on two fronts Thursday.

The Douglas County Commission voted down expanding Lampe Park by 22 acres, in part to build a permanent skatepark. The board voted 3-2 to approve the expansion, but Commissioners Bernie Curtis and Jacques Etchegoyhen said they couldn’t build in a flood plain.

Even though the expansion was approved, the proposal died because of a lack of a 4-vote super majority as required by Douglas County code for master plan amendments.

Later Thursday, the Parks and Recreation Commission decided against installing a temporary skatepark because of liability issues. The temporary park would include wooden ramps that are not secured to the ground.

“It would either have to be supervised, like our skate jams, which are only one day, or we will just have to continue to work on getting a permanent site,” said Parks and Recreation Director Scott Morgan. “The permanent site would be concrete and more durable. People would be able to move the wooden ramps. We don’t want to create an inherent danger.”

Morgan said he wasn’t too disappointed the county commission did not approve the Lampe Park expansion.

“They didn’t take action against the skatepark. It wasn’t our land. It’s hard to be disappointed when it wasn’t our property in the first place,” Morgan said.

He said the commission has other sites in mind, but nothing seriously lright now. Morgan said the commission will continue to look at the issue.

Two proponents for the skatepark, mother and son Patty and Dan O’Sullivan, said they will continue to fight for skaters’ rights.

“I’m slightly disappointed, but I know once we get it, it will be well worth the wait,” Dan said. “It will be a lot better than any parks around here because skaters have been involved in it since the beginning and we will have a lot of say in how it looks.”

Dan said he thinks the best place for the skatepark would be in an existing park.

“As long as it is built in an existing park, they will save money on things like restrooms and water fountains, because those things are already there and they will be able to spend that money to make it a better skatepark,” he said.

He and his mom said it is a definite need in the community.

“It’s too bad, especially when the police are coming down on the skaters even harder,” Patty said. “Lampe would have been a great place. They can’t keep putting (skaters) off. They’ve been putting them off for four years now.”