Commission votes to buy skateboard park equipment

May 11, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

They got it. They think they got it. Well, they are almost sure they got it.

It already felt like summertime inside city hall, the air conditioner was broken, but that didn't deter more than 60 kids, their parents and Jackson Park residents from packing the Commission meeting Monday to hear a debate about a skatepark.

The commissioners voted to buy the equipment and let the park and recreation board recommend where to put it. The board has already said the facility should be put in Jackson Park.

After the meeting, skaters and their parents were still confused about the outcome. Paul Sirimong-khon and his family were still debating what had happened. They were sure that the commissioners had voted to buy the equipment, but weren't so sure if there was a definite place to put it.


Commissioner Jamey Gay said after the meeting that in his mind the issue was decided. The equipment would be bought and then the parks and recreation board would decide where to put it, and since the board has already decided Jackson Park was the best place, then it would go there.

Mayor John W.D. Bowling tried to postpone a decision until a special budget meeting today, but Gay made a motion and there was a vote with four in favor. Commissioner Ryan Owens was absent.

Three of the park's neighbors told commissioners they didn't want the skaters in Jackson Park, but that they weren't opposed to a skatepark. Resident Betty Parker said the skatepark didn't belong in a residential area. Another resident, Leon Russell, said none of the neighbors were opposed to the young people, but just the location because there was no water, rest rooms or safe, sidewalk entrance.

Skaters and their parents petitioned the neighborhood and collected about 85 signatures of people in support of the equipment being placed in Jackson Park.

Parks and Recreation Board Chair Rick Serres said that they had already sent a letter to the city that recommended Jackson Park be used as a starting point.

Commissioner Terry Crowley said he had hoped there would be an alternative, but the cost to build a concrete pad, which already exists in Jackson Park, is prohibitive.

Before the meeting, the athletes gathered again outside city hall with their signs and punk rock to rally drivers to honk in support of the park. They sold pizza and skatepark T-shirts designed by skatepark activist Dillon Sirimongkhon.

Two athletes spoke at the meeting. Lewis Wheeler, 14, asked commissioners to help the kids follow their dreams. Tristen Buster said that sometimes he and his friends would play, "How many times can we get kicked out," and that "it's getting really old."

Ryan Montgomery, a history teacher, said he had several skaters in his class and that they are excellent students, who are now learning an important civics lesson. He said that the skating culture allows kids to be creative about their transportation choices and that can help them as adults as they face future transportation dilemmas.

Should the equipment be in Jackson Park, it has been said that the gates would be locked at sunset.

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