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 Northfield.org.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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 is a huge park. Yes, the open space is one of its assets.
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).
There 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.
Other smaller spots are possibilities, too.
I 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?)
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.
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?
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.
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.
With 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
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
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.
After 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
It 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
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.
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:
Continue reading The Ames Park Master Plan: getting closer to finalization (straw poll on skate plaza)