Council receives Parks Board skatepark recommendation: Riverside Park plus $30K

Park and Recreation Advisory Board meets with the Northfield City CouncilPRAB member Nathan KnutsonPRAB member Neil LutskyPRAB member David HvistendahlPRAB member Grace Clark

Members of the Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) skatepark met with the Northfield City Council last night in a work session to discuss the recommendation to permanently locate the skatepark at Riverside Park and to contribute $30,000 towards its construction (concrete).

PRAB members Neil Lutsky and David Hvistendahl presented the details of their report which was approved earlier this month by the PRAB. Chair Nathan Knutson was there to make sure they didn’t screw up. Member Grace Clark presented her dissenting view that the skatepark should be located in Babcock Park.

I was pleased with the thoroughness of the discussion last night and if I was on the council, I’d vote to accept the PRAB’s recommendation.

I’ve turned off comments on this blog post because the current discussion about skatepark issue is happening over here (117 comments to-date).

See Rob Hardy’s amazing comprehensive collection of skatepark-related news and resources on

Athletic field litter: the adults aren’t perfect, either

Sechler Park ball field litter Sechler Park ball field litter Sechler Park ball field litter
Many eyes, including mine, are on the temporary skate park in Riverside Park, to see if the youth using it police themselves. That includes keeping it clean. 

It should be noted, however, that adult athletes aren’t perfect when it comes to the latter. While riding my bike by one of the ball fields at Sechler Park last week, there were cigarette packs and beer cans strewn about after a softball game, with a box of empties left behind.

The skate park will open in Riverside Park this week

 Future temporary home of the skatepark in Riverside Park Northfield skateboarders
While riding my bike though Riverside Park last night, I noticed that the blacktop pad has been recently seal coated.  A few minutes later, I got the official word from these skateboarders that the temporary skate park will open sometime this week.

May 24 update:  Installation began yesterday afternoon. See these photos:

Installation of skate park equipment in Riverside Park Installation of skate park equipment in Riverside Park
Cecilia Cornejo was capturing video of the process. More about her work in this Nfld News article: Northfield Skate Park Coalition becomes subject of documentary.

May 26 update: All the equipment is in place and was evidently in use last night. Photos:

 skate park equipment in Riverside Park  skate park equipment in Riverside Park  skate park equipment in Riverside Park

The skate park should be in a community park, not a neighborhood park. And Old Memorial Park is the best location for it.

I’ve taken a few photos the past week or so of the sites being considered for a skate park. One of them that appears to be a leading contender among PRAB members: the northeast corner of Washington Park at 8th and Union.

Washinton Park, 8th and Union Washington Park - aerial view Park development guidelines Park development guidelines - skate park

But Washington Park is a neighborhood park, not a community park, defined by the City of Northfield’s Park System Master Plan (chapter 3) as serving “a broader purpose than neighborhood parks. Focus is on meeting community-based recreational needs, as well as preserving unique landscapes and open spaces. ”

The Master Plan’s Facility Development Guidelines clearly show that a skatepark is inappropriate for a neighborhood park and instead should be located in a community park or athletic complex. (Northfield has 6 community parks: Ames, Bridge Square, Babcock, Memorial, Oddfellows, and Riverside Lions. And it has 3 athletic complexes: Sechler, Sibley Soccer Fields, and Spring Creek Soccer.) Given the close proximity of that corner of Washington Park to the houses at 8th and Union (see aerial map), it doesn’t seem an appropriate location.  Skateparks can generate a fair amount of noise.

Page 28 of Chapter 3 of the Master Plan’s discusses the location of the skateboard park, and includes a table of the pros and cons:

Skateboarders’ interests were represented by The Northfield Skateboard Coalition during the public process. The group currently has a proposal and design concept for a new skate plaza that would serve their needs. The desired size of the facility is 12,000 to 15,000 s.f. Access to nearby parking, bathrooms, drinking fountain, vending machines, benches, picnic tables, shady areas, and grassy areas for sitting is also desired. A facility of this size would have a capacity of up to 200, although daily use would be less.

A key positive aspect of the skateboard park is that it would serve an age group not always interested in other forms of outdoor recreation. The advocates also point out the importance of the social aspect of the activity, underscoring that location matters for facility success.

The importance of selecting a location for this type of facility that addresses the needs and concerns of the user group, along with those of the larger community, should not be underestimated. To that end, and after much discussion, the PRAB concluded that the facility is best located in a community park, with Ames, Memorial, and Babcock Parks being candidate sites.

The PRAB also concluded that a separate public process was necessary to adequately consider the issues from various perspectives and select the site that best balances the interests of the various stakeholders. To aid that process, the following table identifies the opportunities and limitations of each of the sites currently being considered.
Park Master Plan pros and cons for skate park location

Considering the list of pros and cons for Old Memorial Park, I think it’s a much better choice than Ames or Babcock.  And the constraints listed for Memorial “surrounding residential properties (i.e., noise,
traffic, security concerns, etc.)” and “loss of general open space” are really minor issues.

Look at these photos:

Old Memorial Park Old Memorial Park Old Memorial Park Old Memorial Park
Old Memorial Park is a huge park.  Yes, the open space is one of its assets.

North side of Old Memorial Park North side of Old Memorial Park North side of Old Memorial Park
But there are a number of places where a skate park could be ‘tucked’ into the park without affecting the open space or the neighbors. One spot seems ideal: the north side of the park, just below the sand volleyball court (photos above).

Old Memorial Park aerial viewThere is only one house nearby and it’s not that close. See the aerial view with my arrow pointing to it (right). And the night I took these photos, I met the homeowner who said that that would be a much better location than out in one of the open spaces.

DSC08492 DSC08494 DSC08495 DSC08498
Other smaller spots are possibilities, too.

Old Memorial ParkI don’t have any skin in this game.  But now that the City has the skate park equipment and the Union of Youth has the money to put towards an asphalt or concrete pad for it, it’s time to get this done.

I’m fine with a temporary location this year at Riverside or Babcock. But I think Old Memorial Park is the best permanent location for the skatepark.

Let the discussion continue here. (I’ve closed comments on the Feb. 25 blog post, Where should the Union of Youth skateboard park be located?)

Where should the Union of Youth skateboard park be located?

2009 temporary skatepark at Babcock Park 2009 temporary skatepark at Babcock Park
I see in the minutes for the January PRAB (Parks & Rec Advisory Board) meeting (page 4 of the Feb. packet), that there was a presentation by the Northfield  Union of Youth about their skateboard park equipment.

The group is looking for guidance on the next step. The $10,000 grant they obtained will expire at the end of 2012. They are looking for a permanent place for their newly acquired equipment. Discussion with the PRAB and the group included past skate park issues, possible sites, and monitoring of the park. Staff will begin looking at the size requirements for the equipment, and costs associated with pavement, fencing and other expenses. Staff will also research user fees and costs for staffing a skate park.

For background, see this Jan. 20 Nfld News article Equipment purchase gives proposed skatepark a boost:

A half pipe, quarter pipe, a pyramid, rails and more — are all now owned by the Union of Youth, also known as The Key.

“I was like ‘sweet,’ finally,” said Jared Larson of the purchase, a deal brokered with the help of city Streets & Parks Supervisor TJ Heinricy.

Whither the Northfield Skate Park?

The Cuyuna Range Youth Center in Crosby, MN had a fundraiser breakfast on Saturday morning during the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival and I stopped in for a breakfast burrito.

Cuyuna Range Youth Center  Dick Gunter with other volunteers at the Cuyuna Range Youth Center  Cuyuna Range Youth Center  Cuyuna Range Youth Center
They’d just had the grand opening for the new youth center building and I got the grand tour from Dick Gunter, one of the adult board members. It’s quite a facility, on a par with we now have here with the Northfield Union of Youth‘s new building for The Key.

Crosby Memorial Park Skate Park Crosby Memorial Park Skate Park Crosby Memorial Park Skate Park Crosby Memorial Park Skate Park
Crosby also has a very nice skate park for its youth, right in Memorial Park in the center of town, adjacent to City Hall.  And it made me wonder what has happened with the Union of Youth Skate Park/Plaza which had raised $40,000 or more at one point.  The last update here on LoGro was in late September, 2009 when the temporary skate park at Babcock Park was disassembled after three months of use. The Union of Youth Skate Park/Plaza web page has not been updated in years.

Anyone know what’s up?

What’s up with the skatepark?

Skatepark in Babcock Park I drove by the skatepark in Babcock Park this morning and noticed that most of the structures had been removed. A Bobcat was there, open, but unoccupied. Anyone know what’s going on?

Update on the temporary skate park: dos and don’ts, repairs, no mixing with cowboys

Skatepark rules Skatepark repairs Skatepark repairs skatepark closed sign
Left: There’s now a big poster of dos and don’ts tacked up on one of the ramps at the temporary skatepark at Babcock. Nice.

Center: the ramps are taking a beating, but they’re being repaired

Right: The skatepark is closed all day this Wed. because the DJJD committee is having its Sponsors Thank You Pig Roast at the rodeo grounds on Wed. at 5 pm.

I don’t understand the reasoning for the latter, as the the skate park is not really very close to where the DJJD tent is set up.  And the James-Younger Gang doesn’t really perform at the event. They just ‘appear.’  Somebody’s being too cautious here, it seems.

Temporary skatepark opens at Babcock: Where will it end up?

Temporary skatepark at Babcock Park Temporary skatepark at Babcock Park 
There are now six temporary skatepark structures set up at Babcock Park and judging from the crowd there last night, it appears to be a hit.

Temporary skatepark at Babcock Park Temporary skatepark at Babcock Park Temporary skatepark at Babcock Park

See the Skatepark Coalition’s blog posts for more photos of the construction, and last week’s Nfld News: Coalition gets help building a temporary skatepark at Babcock.

The temporary skatepark in Babcock Park is ready

temporary skatepark at Babcock Park  Joel Walinski wrote in the Friday Memo for July 10:

As noted below, approximately 50% of the Babcock Park Rodeo Grounds parking lot was overlayed this week. Local skateboarders were out the following day examining and testing the work completed. Word from the Skate Board Coalition is the group will be working on installing different components over the next several weeks in this area.

Nothing about this so far on the Union of Youth’s skatepark page (which is actually the Union of Youth blog with the tag word ‘skatepark’).

Looks like they’re going to need a trash container there.

Podcast: The Triumvirate on the skatepark decision aftermath

The LG TriumvirateWith our new schedule (recording and air-time on Mondays) we can’t quite get organized in time to line up guests so once again, it was just us yammering, mainly about the Council’s skatepark decision and subsequent plan to proceed without the PRAB’s input.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes.

Continue reading Podcast: The Triumvirate on the skatepark decision aftermath

Give feedback to the City Council on their skatepark deliberations: Online open mic, straw poll, or both

img-19211 I’ve posted all of the Northfield City Council member deliberations (written and audio) about their vote last week on locating the skatepark in Ames Park. It’s now time for your feedback, and we’re giving you two choices: 1) Online Open Mic; 2) Straw Poll. (continued)

Continue reading Give feedback to the City Council on their skatepark deliberations: Online open mic, straw poll, or both

Council rejects Ames as skate plaza site and then rejects Park Board from further planning

Northfield City Council 2009 It was no surprise to me that the Northfield City Council voted 5-1 tonight to reject Ames Park as the location for the skate plaza. Betsey Buckheit was the only one to vote in favor of it. The real surprise was in the post-vote discussion where they opted to take over the criteria setting and planning process for a skate park location from the Park & Rec Advisory Board (PRAB). I briefly chatted with PRAB Richard Vanasek after the meeting who seemed stunned by the latter.

Continue reading Council rejects Ames as skate plaza site and then rejects Park Board from further planning

Skate plaza in Ames Park: how our Councilors approach the decision

Northfield City Council 2009 Page 29 of the June 1 City Council agenda packet summarizes the history of the skate park location as it relates to Ames Park. On April 29, I emailed each Councilor, asking them if they’d be willing to write up their thoughts about the upcoming vote so that citizens could “know more details about how you’re approaching it, to know more about which of the various pros and cons hold the most validity, to know more about you see the complexities/various shades of gray on the issue.” I’ll attach separate comments for each Councilor who I’ve heard from, and who speaks to the issue during or after the Council meeting. I’ve turned off comments for now until I gather comments from them all.

Podcast: Triumvirate squabbles generate heat, little light

Dusty Budd, Tracy Davis, Ross CurrierAfter a send-off to KYMN Radio News Director Dusty Budd (he departs Northfield for fame and fortune in LA next week), we argued vociferously over the community expectations policy, using language that would actually violate the policy had we been recording the show on the sidewalk. We closed with a similarly heated discussion about the skate park.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes. You can also download the MP3 or subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes. Continue reading Podcast: Triumvirate squabbles generate heat, little light

Podcast: the Triumvirate on locating the skate plaza in Ames Park

The Locally Grown TriumvirateIt was just us three citizens yesterday, pretending to be members of the Northfield City Council and discussing how and why we’d vote on the Parks and Rec Advisory Board’s (PRAB) recommendation to locate the skatepark in Ames Park.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes. You can also download the MP3 or subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes. Continue reading Podcast: the Triumvirate on locating the skate plaza in Ames Park

Straw poll: Locate skate plaza in Ames Park or not?

 Northfield City Council with the Parks and Rec Advisory Board The Northfield City Council has agreed to an up or down vote on the Parks and Rec Advisory Board’s (PRAB) unanimous recommendation to locate the skate plaza in Ames Park. They’ll likely vote next Monday.

Before you take the straw poll, 1) see the 60+ comments attached to this Feb. blog post; 2) see pages 7-8 of the Monday’s Council agenda packet PDF; 3) see the meeting page for a list of 8 related PDF attachments.  According to the PRAB, these are the opportunites/benefits and constraints/limitations for locating the skate plaza in Ames Park:



  • Central location near downtown area
  • Social atmosphere of downtown area, with added appeal of local and outside visitors being in the area as casual observers
  • Adequate space to accommodate need
  • Proximity to other social activities
  • Positive image for City
  • Noise impact not an issue
  • Visibility –adds to safety
  • More direct access
  • Ames easier to fix safety issues
  • More urban feeling, hard surfaces better fit with urban design
  • Other facilities more relative to youth activities
  • Visibility from Water Street Project
  • Greater visibility for surveillance
  • Social atmosphere
  • Proximity to Police Station
  • Part of DJJD celebration
  • Access to site through downtown area and across river more congested
  • Lack of support facilities, such as parking, restrooms, etc
  • Uncertain visual impact of facility as a gateway feature into downtown area
  • Impact of facility use patterns on surrounding downtown businesses serving a diverse cross-section of clientele (ie., noise, traffic, security concerns, etc)
  • Loss of open space for other uses, such as annual events
  • Require full development

Feel free to ask questions and comment, even if you don’t take the poll. I’m especially interested in your thinking/explanation of why you voted as you did.

[poll id="36"]

The Ames Park Master Plan: getting closer to finalization (straw poll on skate plaza)

skateplaza-citing-options An update on the Ames Park Master Plan is scheduled for Monday night’s Council meeting/work session. Included is the issue of where to cite the Northfield Skateboard Coalition’s Skate Park/Plaza: closer to MOM’s Ames Mill or closer to 5th St. The Council packet has this two-page PDF of the Ames Park Concept with the two options produced by the consulting firm, Bonestroo. I took photos of Ames Park during DJJD last year (to show carnival-related parking) and also some from last winter.

The Northfield News is running a straw poll on the bottom of their homepage on the skate plaza location within Ames Park. Here’s a slightly different version:

[poll id="35"]


Continue reading The Ames Park Master Plan: getting closer to finalization (straw poll on skate plaza)

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