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Headlines are misleading about skatepark

by Commissioner Bernie Curtis

Recently, I read headlines in another newspaper designed to inflame debate in the community and to demonstrate that your elected Board of County Commissioners has no interest in the youth of Douglas County, particularly the kids who enjoy in-line skating or skate boarding. The headlines read something like, “Commissioners Say No to Skateboard Park.” This headline statement is NOT correct, nor is it the truth.

In actuality, the skateboard park proposal has never been before any county commissioners’ meeting for funding or for final approval. At this time, a site for any proposed skateboard park has not been determined. Public hearings have been held by the Parks and Recreation Commission, but a location that meets a community consensus approval has not been accomplished by this advisory board. Once this is done, then the skateboard park project will be moving forward.

The headlines suggested a very negative perception about your county commissioners’ decision about a skateboard park. The public perception, thanks to the headline writer, is that the commissioners turned the skateboard park down.

This is NOT true. What was being discussed was a land use issue, involving a master plan amendment and zoning change for a parcel of land near Lampe park. According to the proposal, a portion of the land was requested to be zoned for commercial use and the remaining portion was to be zoned “public facility” adjacent to Lampe Park. The public facility zoning would allow recreational uses. At the time of the meeting, this land was zoned for agriculture only.

This master plan amendment and zoning change was not approved by the Board of Commissioners; therefore, the public facility zone was not applied to the land adjacent to Lampe Park.

It was apparently thought that if the zoning change was allowed and the Master Plan was amended, the county might somehow acquire this land and approve this as the skateboard park location. Then the county would produce the funding mechanism to move forward to go through the design process and then to bid and to eventual construction contract award to build a skateboard park at that location.

As you can see, this is a pretty far stretch for the headline writers to go. The truth about this issue is that I have not heard even one adverse comment from any of the commissioners about building a skateboard facility in Douglas County. The only issue seems to be “where” it is to be built. Nobody wants it in their “backyard,” and so the public hearings about this will proceed until a location is determined.

I think that it should be located in the community that contains most of the children. It should b where it is easy to get to and where drinking water and restrooms are available. It should be located where children would not have to cross our most heavily traveled streets to get there. Maybe it should be in an established county park so the parks department employees can monitor activities there.

These are some of my thoughts about the inaccuracies and inflammatory nature of recent “headlines” and about the important upcoming issue of a skateboard park.

The skateboard park needs to be built. It has my support and, I believe, the support of all of the Commissioners. It is a project that deserves a full public hearing process and then everyone will get a chance to voice their opinions about it. Let’s work together to get this project going!

n Bernie Curtis represents Douglas County Commission District No. 3.