Where’s the best place for the skate plaza?

ames overview ames left side ames right side

skateboarderThe Northfield Skateboard Coalition presented to the City of Northfield Park & Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) last week.

The meeting was blogged here by NDDC’s Ross Currier, blogged here by Union of Youth ED Josh Hinnenkamp, and Suzy Rook wrote about it in this week’s Northfield News: Getting on board: Support grows for a skating plaza in Ames Park.

At last Saturday’s Ward 4 meeting (blogged here), there was some discussion about where to locate the skate plaza: Babcock Park along Hwy 3, Memorial Park adjacent to the swimming pool, or Ames Park downtown. The decision will soon be made by the PRAB.

Sentiment appears to be shifting to Ames Park vs. Memorial. According to the paper,

The coalition lobbied for a spot at Memorial Park, in the open area adjacent to the pool. Vanasek [PRAB chair Rick Vanasek] said Memorial isn’t his first choice. Neighbors, during pool-planning meetings, were promised the rest of the 20-acre site would include trails and open space. Park lighting, they agreed, would be only for security. Ames Park, Vanasek said, is not only accessible, it can be lit for nighttime skating. “It’s an entrance to town. It can be a showcase,” he said.

What are the pros and cons of the three locations?


  1. Though I’ve had openly mixed feelings on the skate park altogether, I have to say that I strongly prefer Memorial Park.

    The primary users of this park will of course be teens, who will most likely be living in houses. The Memorial Park location provides a park at reasonable walking distance for anyone from Jefferson Parkway up to Carleton. Ames Park, on the other hand, is often flooded and at the intersection of two highways. It has good proximity to the downtown and The Key, but that’s the only big plus I see.

    Babcock Park, which is tucked behind strip malls and industrial facilities, seems even stranger. It’s nowhere near any housing or anything other than the Tac’O’asis.

    January 25, 2008
  2. Holly Cairns said:

    Vanasek, if you are reading this: Bad idea to stick the skate park near Hwy 3. Someone’ll get into an accident because those skaters can do cool things and instead of driving, drivers will be watching the park. Plus, the geese who hang down there are gross and mean. And icky.

    I think Memorial Park. Not near any house in particular, but in the open area, and make sure the park has enough lights and is inviting and not secluded, and not too dark (like the Menard’s parking lot is too dark– it’s so dark I can hardly find my car. I think it’s scary.)

    Otherwise, what about doing away with rules against skating in town. I think it’s dumb to crowd the courts with cases against kids for things like that.

    January 25, 2008
  3. Ross Currier said:

    I was all for the Skatepark near the swimming pool; it seemed like maybe they could share resources, like bathrooms and drinking fountains.

    Talking to members of the Coalition, however, made me realize that for some of them, that location was considered “in the middle of nowhere” and they wanted to be closer to other amenities.

    Then I heard about the economic impact of skateparks in other towns and it made me think that for a tiny fraction of the cost of other potential capital investments, we might get something that would actually stimulate the sales in our restaurants and retail shops.

    January 25, 2008
  4. Ross,

    I would actually like to see those number because I know when I was of the age of skateboarding…I did not have any money to go to restaurants and other places that are downtown. It makes more sense to me to have the skate park by the new pool. Not to mention if it is placed in Ames Park it will disrupt DJJD, which I think has a pretty big financial impact on Northfield in the positive way. I would also be concerned about accidents there…would we have more people running across the highway??

    January 25, 2008
  5. Hayes,
    I think you’re right about the risk of accidents. Speaking as a teenager, we’re not the most cautious type. I can certainly imagine people darting between an Ames skatepark and Subway or Caribou during traffic gaps.

    January 25, 2008
  6. Ross Currier said:

    Hayes –

    From what I heard about the skatepark in Rochester, the parents bring the kids to the park and then drink coffee and eat pastries, apparently sitting in lawn chairs, until it’s time to go to lunch or dinner, or stay over night in the hotel. Furthermore, many of the members of the Coalition that I have met seem to be gainfully employed.

    As for DJJD, aren’t we really only talking about the three or four-day carnival? My understanding of the current skatepark design is that it will only take up a small portion of Ames Park, leaving tons of room for Mary Rossing’s excellent bandshell idea, and still have adequate space for the carnival rides and cotton candy booths.

    Hayes and Sean –

    Let us try to take our imaginations in a different direction and assume that the skateboarders have enough common sense not to be running out in front of semitrailers just ’cause they’re in such a hurry to eat a sub.

    Heck, isn’t it about the same distance to go to Erbert & Gerbert’s?

    – Ross

    January 25, 2008
  7. Ames Park, without a doubt; good visibility, lots of energy, bring a smile to the face of the passers-by….provided it is built in conjunction with a skating rink… and most importantly the old railway station is moved there to provide a rest and repair station for the Mill Towns Trail bicyclists – coffee, sandwiches, a veranda to watch the skateboarders and kayakers and conoeists and passing motorists on H3, and birds and eagles as they fly over Northfield (rest stop run by The Key?). Ames Park will thus become in and of itself a destination for many.
    The railway depot is movable and is useless where it is. Bet the railroad will sell it for a $1.

    January 25, 2008
  8. Ross,

    Well, that is good news about the boarders being gainfully employed…however, I don’t see a lot of parents sitting down there on lawn chairs. From what I can remember from being that “age” I did not want my parents anywhere by me. I wanted to be my independent person. Now I might be stereotyping and I maybe way off but that is just my own experience.

    Also, aren’t they going to have to put in a parking lot down there or are they going to make them walk (or board) from the Water Street lot. If they make them park in the Water Street lot, they would have to walk or board a long way…I just don’t see it being very practical.

    As for DJJD, yes it is a short carnival but it needs to be taken into account and sometimes I think people forget about that.

    I do think boarders would have enough common sense to not run in front of semis but, it will still happen and if they have to run to Erbs and Gerbs they would be running across another road…

    I just see the spot by the pool as a much more practical choice. Heck, you could do some boarding and get all hot and go for a nice cool dip in the new pool…instead of jumping in the river and getting sucked down stream…then the city would shut down the park and we would be back to square one again.

    January 25, 2008
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Hmm. I’m kind of warming up to the idea having the

    • skate plaza
    • kayaking park
    • bandshell
    • Mill Towns Trail
    • DJJD carnival
    • ice rink in the winter

    all at Ames Park.

    A converging confluence of synergy with a bit of symbiotic complementarity would be great for downtown.

    January 25, 2008
  10. Anne Bretts said:

    Sean, I think you’re right. One of the big complaints I’ve heard is about teens skateboarding downtown (and teens complaining about being hassled for doing so). It seems amazing that the city would put the skateboard facility right in Ames Park, where nearly everyone who uses it will have to come through downtown.
    Memorial moves the skateboarders to a place where it’s not that dangerous for them to travel to the park. It also gives them a place to hang out where they won’t run into — forgive the expression — a lot of conflict with pedestrians, vehicle traffic and frustrated building owners.

    January 25, 2008
  11. kiffi summa said:

    “Ghostly” comment: Please put up the NEW Skateboard plaza design; the configuration is very applicable to the shape of Ames Park.
    I do also wish people would not think teens are such idiots that they can’t cross the highway! I assume they go across the highway to the aforementioned businesses now, after making the “perilous” trip from Bridge Square!
    Remember……. many people think it’s “OK” to send them to Iraq at age eighteen.
    Whoops, slipped into irony there………

    January 25, 2008
  12. Anthony Pierre said:

    dont forget the outdoor racquetball court!

    January 25, 2008
  13. I love the idea of putting it at Ames Park. It’s an underused space that should be a highlight and complement to downtown. It does flood on occasion, but usually not the whole thing, and it could be regraded somewhat to prevent a lot of that.

    Fencing and natural barriers could be installed to increase safety along Hwy 3 and 5th Street, if that is desired.

    I’m sure it could be designed to allow for continued use during DJJD.

    January 25, 2008
  14. Kiffi and Ross,
    People take risks, including darting across busy four-lane roads and — ahem — skateboard tricks. Whether or not teens are more likely to take the risk doesn’t really matter, though. Everyone takes risks, so why create an environment where risk is more tempting?

    Brendon and Griff,
    You really think that can all be crammed in? I don’t know the exact size of the proposed skatepark, but unless it’s tiny, I doubt you could fit the skatepark and the carnival in its current state at Ames.

    January 25, 2008
  15. Marie Fischer said:

    Charlie Hussman has done an amazing job of planning the skatepark design and making it something appealing. It would be a great gateway into downtown Northfield. As for keeping it downtown, that’s really the only option that makes sense. Skaters like to be around the activity, and currently, the only activity is contained in very close proximity to the downtown area. Putting the skatepark in the middle of a residential area will take away the social aspect of building a skatepark. ALSO, I wouldn’t be too concerned about the safety of being near the highway. Those boys (and..girls?) can take care of themselves and if the park was on the east side of the river, they should have no reason to cross the highway other than to go to and from their houses.
    I also think it’s a good idea to fill Ames park with more things. Hasn’t anyone noticed how UGLY it gets in the spring after rain? And DJJD has been becoming more and more of a nightmare on the carnival side because of the mud. We need some structures and probably some trees in there. It’s kind of an ugly little bald spot in Northfield other than the small area right along the river. I agree with Griff; it’d be neat to see it filled with some energy.

    Okay, I’ve said a lot, but Ross asked me to comment, so here it is.
    These kids want a park downtown. If the park is downtown, they won’t need to skate around the streets and businesses. These kids want to be seen and have the ability to encourage others to go to the park: tucking it away won’t be very appealing to anyone. They are working so hard, and one has to have some difficulty thinking of a whole lot of cons while the skaters are trying so much to get rid of the awful stigma that surrounds the typical skater. Honestly, I believe that Ames park is the only proper place for these skaters.

    January 25, 2008
  16. Marie Fischer said:

    My bad, that was Griff that asked me to comment…

    January 25, 2008
  17. John S. Thomas said:

    I think that putting the skateboard park at Memorial would be a huge mistake, as the lighting would become a huge object of contention with the neighborhood.

    Ames Park needs a serious upgrade… and this could just be one part of a larger plan.

    Also, I am getting so tired of the “god forbid we inconvenience DJJD” mentality. Yes, DJJD is a very positive thing, and yes it has a $$ impact, but it also has a HUGE impact on the citizenry of Northfield. We do not need to live our lives around 4 days in September. We do not need to worry that the parking lot on 5th is big enough for the beer tent. We can consider it, but everyone can adapt as well.

    The carnival has a HUGE impact on Ames Park. The turf is always torn up after the carnival.

    The shore line of Ames park could use improvement, and some goose mediation could possibly be in order. It would be nice to see both sides of the river improved with both this process and the fifth & water improvements.

    I am completely in favor of a skateboard park in Northfield, but I don’t think we should hide it. It should be downtown, near the Key, and other youth orientated resources. Skateboarders will use the park much more than the 3 months a year the pool is open. Memorial park is not on the Northfield Transit route… Downtown is.

    Its time to make Ames Park a centerpiece. It is imperative that a unified plan is developed, and we just do not start placing objects willy-nilly on the parcel.

    I also love the idea of moving the train station.

    January 25, 2008
  18. Jerry Bilek said:

    Ames park is underutilized. It is prime real estate that we reserve for Geese to poop and a 4 day carnival. It has so much more potential. Yes, It is on a flood plain so buildings are out, but all of the proposals Griff mentions above are flood proof or movable. I think Ames would be great for all of these activities and would make it a real park used year round.

    south bank in London has a great skate park:


    add some live music, street performers, food vendors and if this were WI, beer.

    imagine another summer event, a skateboard competition.

    January 25, 2008
  19. Jerry Bilek said:

    very well said John Thomas, I could not agree more.

    January 25, 2008
  20. Paul Fried said:

    Even if skate parks have a significant positive economic impact, Ames Park might be a hard sell, even to those businesses that might benefit most. The stereotypical young male skateboarders are seldom the folks that businesses are eager to reach out to.

    At Ames, goose poop (among other things) would be is a challenge, as Holly notes. It would be a turf-war for a while between skateboarders and geese. Only those who occupied and defended the turf for a while would prevail.

    Impact on business:
    Parents shop? Great….

    Impact especially on skateboard shops? (Which one?)

    Economic impact on restaurants?
    – Would it really be a matter of parents eating while kids skateboard, or would these families want a location near a restaurant that the ‘boarders and the ‘rents would both enjoy?
    – What’s the fav restaurant of Midwestern skateboarders according to polls? Do we have anything close?
    – If not, are ‘boarders likely to compromise and frequent what we have? Hmm…
    – Pizza at Basil’s, and Erb’n’Gerb’s, as Hayes mentions?
    – We have coffee shops (BM, Caribou, QB, Hideaway). Bakery goods. The deserts are great at the Hideaway, but might not appeal to the ‘boarders.
    – I love the Cow and the Tav’, but they are a bit up the hill and down division. Same with Sweet Lou’s– might not benefit much from an Ames Park skate park, but who knows.
    – That and Hogan Bro’s are close to Ames, B&L’s Pizza across another street, not obvious from Water Street. Those might attract skateboard families.

    If at Ames, and if the liquor store relocates, would we benefit from a youth- or family-friendly restaurant or two near that corner?
    – Across from Forget-me-not?
    – Or from riverside patio seating for the two riverside restaurants between Mr. Movies and Ace? (China Buffet and…name escapes me…).

    It will help when the planned (or is it just proposed?) work on improving and extending the riverside paths (all the way to Seclur?) gets done….

    Sean mentions Babcock (the one hiding near the river — behind pizza and tacos), but it’s across the street from Mac’n’Don’s, a temptation.

    At Ames, you’d also have ‘boarders skating across the bridge from parking on Water Street… Safety issues?

    Build a wide walking/skating /biking bridge over the bridge near the falls. Problem solved. (Right…)

    Speaking of safety issues; I s’pose ice skating on the river would not work, given the way the river goes in winter, but family skating somewhere near Division/downtown could also have an economic effect. Hot chocolate at a coffeehouse, nearby, after skating.

    Griff’s plan (skate plaza/kayaking/ park /bandshell/Mill Towns Trail/DJJD carnival/ice rink) sounds just a tad crowded (he was probably joking–tone of voice, hard to catch).

    Econofoods’ parking lot? Well, no….

    January 25, 2008
  21. Anne Bretts said:

    Well, it seems that having the skate park in Ames Park has support, and that’s great. While I can see the merits of Memorial, I do see the reasons for Ames as well. I am wondering how the city should handle skateboarding to and from Ames Park. I’m not opposing the park there, just questioning how the downtown bike/car/pedestrian/boarder factions will be integrated.
    And while I don’t want to stand in the way of such momentum, wouldn’t it make sense to just have a conversation about how all the bandshell/skatepark/canoe/kayak/bike trail/visitor center/parking pieces will fit together along the waterfront? I could see a lot of configurations that would work.
    It would be great to have an illustrated map and lists of costs for each piece. That would make sure all the pieces will fit and give people a chance to consider which pieces might be suitable for city financing and which might be projects for community or organization fundraising.

    January 25, 2008
  22. John S. Thomas said:

    Economic Impact? Skateboard Park? I do not see the relation between the two.

    I do not see how the Skate park being downtown is going to generate any economic further stimulus, unless an event is held at the location, or if there is enough draw for a downtown business to start carrying skateboards, clothing, and parts.

    However, there are two ideas on the table that would effectively be the “kiss of death” in my opinion, as we have already done this with the previous location. The prior skateboard park suffered from poor design, poor location, poor hours, and poor support.

    Putting the new park out behind Taco’aisis makes it difficult to skate to. Boarders would continue to “skate locally” instead of skating a mile to the skate park.

    This location would be less visible, and have a higher potential risk of vandalism at that location. I like the visibility that Ames provides for this location.

    The Memorial location runs a higher risk of a negative response from the neighborhood, due to lighting, noise, etc. and may not be appropriate there.

    If you use Ames, you could hold skating events, small concerts, MIni X-games type events, etc. You would have access to power, room to bring in the mobile stage, and all sorts of other options, without impacting a residential area.

    I actually think that Griff’s idea has merit, and we should explore it here further…

    January 25, 2008
  23. Anne Bretts said:

    One more thought as I read about all the skateboarders and their families enjoying downtown dining options…noise. Will outdoor diners, especially those who don’t skateboard, want to share a summer meal or conversation while bombarded by the sounds of skateboard wheels all evening? Sound carries and those who live and work and dine and walk along the river might not find their quiet activities altered by the steady soundtrack of a skate plaza. How will the noise affect outdoor music at the local venues?

    January 25, 2008
  24. John S. Thomas said:


    Another reason why Memorial is not such a great location. At least Ames has a bit of a buffer all the way around it, and outside diners would be at least a block away.

    As to noise, many a night during the fall I can hear the football game, the music from the entertainment tent at DJJD, and other downtown events. As you know, I live near the golf course.

    Local noise ordinances are another completely different discussion, one that we shall be facing shortly with the onset of spring.


    Here is an interesting article about noise and proposed skateparks. I was just out surfing, and came across this:


    The Public Skatepark Development Guide is the world’s first comprehensive instructional manual on skatepark advancement and is a publishing collaboration between the International Association of Skateboard Companies, Tony Hawk Foundation, and SPS. The Guide presents the collected wisdom of dozens of the nation’s most effective skatepark proponents and expertly discusses every stage of skatepark creation


    * 128-page Guide to Skatepark Advancement
    * Full-color cover, black-and-white interiors
    * Written by top skatepark advocates
    * Over two dozen graphics and 60 photographs
    * Written for people of all ages and experience
    * Foreword by Tony Hawk
    * Extended supplemental chapter with templates, forms, and worksheets

    I think I am going to order one. It is free, but they want $6.95 for shipping. My question is, why didn’t they just PDF the thing? 😎

    I wonder if the coalition has seen this document?

    January 25, 2008
  25. Marie Fischer said:

    as for an updated picture… I can’t do much for linkage but I can tell you that it was in Wednesday’s paper


    January 26, 2008
  26. Griff Wigley said:

    Northfield HCI‘s Zach Pruitt sent me 3 images of the new design for Ames Park and I’ve swapped the old with them in the blog post. (Scroll up to the top of this message thread.) He wrote:

    Attached is the updated design of the skate plaza that the Skateboard Coalition created.  It’s a working design (not final) — the youth have spent a great number of hours discussing and reworking what features they would like to see it include. The brick in the design is used to show contrast (it would not actually be brick).

    From the start of their process, they have been committed to seeing the plaza blend in with whichever park location it ultimately ends up.  They have wanted the plaza to have places where people (skaters and non-skaters) could sit. I don’t pretend to know much about skateboarding, but have some great local teachers 🙂 — and I am continually amazed and inspired by their passion, creativity, and commitment to this project.

    January 26, 2008
  27. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Nfld News editorial: Ames not best choice for new skate park.

    … the students involved have worked extremely hard and will have to continue to do so to make this park a reality. As a result, they shouldn’t have to compromise on where they want their park, as long as their preference – Memorial Park – is reasonable…

    Parks and Rec board chair Richard Vanasek said Memorial’s neighbors were promised no lights would be erected in the park except for security. We wonder under whose authority such a short-sighted vow was made.­

    January 26, 2008
  28. Griff Wigley said:

    Marie, it appears that, as president of the Union of Youth’s Youth Board, you’re in disagreement with The Skateboard Coalition on where the skate plaza should be. According to the Northfield News article published earlier this week, “The coalition lobbied for a spot at Memorial Park, in the open area adjacent to the pool.”

    Above in comment #15, you wrote:

    As for keeping it downtown, that’s really the only option that makes sense. Skaters like to be around the activity, and currently, the only activity is contained in very close proximity to the downtown area. Putting the skatepark in the middle of a residential area will take away the social aspect of building a skatepark.

    I know that the Northfield Union of Youth (The Key) is only one member of the Skateboard Coalition (the others: Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI), The Mayor’s Youth Council, Youth Plus). And maybe you weren’t speaking your opinion about site location with your Prez hat on. But can you give us a sense of how strongly the Coalition feels about Memorial vs. Ames?

    January 26, 2008
  29. Griff Wigley said:

    Other ‘cons’ for the Ames Park location mentioned by the Nfld News editorial:

    it is one of the most heavily traveled corners of the community, adding a slew of boarders and bikers to the mix seems like asking for trouble

    To cover over a large portion of the permeable soil at Ames with non-permeable material like concrete will increase the amount of runoff into the river and add to those businesses’ difficulties.

    And another ‘pro’ for Memorial:

    Memorial Park has plenty of open space and is the most safely accessible site of the three recommended. Putting a skateboard park next to the pool would draw more youth to both, generate more revenue and would come much closer to the idea of a “showcase” site than locating it at Ames.

    January 26, 2008
  30. John S. Thomas said:

    The Northfield News got it wrong on this one, in my opinion…

    “We wonder under whose authority such a short-sighted vow was made.”

    They should have checked the facts a bit deeper…

    Mr. Vanasek should be able to clarify this, but it is my perception that there are different “classes” of parks within our community, each with different types of use. You could have a class of park, called a neighborhood park, that is small and calm. There are also larger parks, that are lighted and has features ballfields. These classes, types, and features are all in the Master Park plan.

    I believe that Memorial park is in the category of parks that does not meet the criteria for lights and ballfields, so lights and skate parks may not work in this location, due to the impact on the neighborhood.

    I personally thing lighting the skate park would probably not be a great idea. During the summer, natural light goes until almost 9 PM on some nights. During the winter, you would not need to light it, as it would be covered by snow and ice. Most, if not all of the parks in Northfield close at 10PM correct?

    I really do not have a problem with a skate park in either location. I do however have a problem with a LIGHTED skate park in the Memorial location, as there is already too much light pollution in this community. You would have to show me a design that would not impact the neighborhood, and fits into the Master Park Plan.

    Are the lights really necessary? I do not see any lights in any of the designs presented.

    Also, isn’t there another pancake fundraiser coming up soon?

    January 26, 2008
  31. They used to hold football games at Memorial Field until quite recently, and many current residents moved there understanding that noise, traffic and lighting would be a factor (though I’m sure many were relieved when the new field was built elsewhere). Having the pool there also means a certain amount of noise and traffic and I assume some lighting, though summer’s long daylight hours probably minimize that. I don’t see that adding a skate park would be a radically different level of use, though perhaps I underestimate the potential usage. Reasonable spring and fall lighting hours could be set with lighting controls. That being said, I’m sure a more central location would appeal to potential users who live on the west side of town, and the suggestions for making Ames Park a lively, multi-purpose destination are interesting. Discouraging or co-existing with the geese will definitely be an issue.

    January 26, 2008
  32. David DeLong said:

    What about the old skate park location, or was it the location that caused it’s closure? I admit not keeping up on this, but have the problems with the old skate park been addressed or are we just going to repeat history?

    January 26, 2008
  33. The noise from Ames Park would be a non-issue. Hwy 3 and 5th Street traffic as well as the (soon-to-change?) waterfall would drown out all but the most horrendous grinds from the skaters.

    Those three things are much louder than skateboarding, not to mention the occasional train which drowns out all other sounds several times a day in that vicinity.

    I really think we should invest in many improvements to Ames Park, it would only increase the vitality of the downtown. Many flooding concerns, as the News pointed out, could be handled with some regrading. The goose issue would be minor at best. Our feathered friends would simply move on to other locations, like my backyard, as human use of the park increased. They do not enjoy hanging out with people around them.

    January 26, 2008
  34. Incidentally, I see the designs posted above, but I’m wondering what the scale of the project is. What are the proposed dimensions?

    I also love that there are three people walking on one of the models, one appears to be a guy in a suit, none of them are skateboarding. Funny. Apparently the new skateboarding structure would not be for skaters at all, but rather a place for lonely businessmen to ponder their lives.

    Could someone please draw a boarder six feet above the structure and upside down? That would be better.

    January 26, 2008
  35. Paul Fried said:

    Locating a skate park somewhere near Hwy. 3 would have advantages because of the noise and light already there….

    But don’t underestimae the power of DJJD to defeat any plan to alter Ames in any way —
    or the DJJD rodeo ground/snow dump park.

    If it were up to me, I’d rethink all those parks in ways that would still be usable for DJJD, but * also * more usable / multi-use for things like skate parks or band shells. Or relocate certain DJJD functions to other planned green space that could have better multi-use potential.

    January 26, 2008
  36. Griff Wigley said:

    I took a bunch of photos of both Ames Park and Memorial Park today.

    Here are two photos of Ames. I was standing near the river alongside MOM, facing southwest. It appears to me that there would be plenty of room among the trees for the skate plaza. The DJJD carnival doesn’t locate anything in this corner. But it would still be good to get the dimensions of the recent plaza sketch by Charlie Hussman.

    IMG_0314 IMG_0312

    January 26, 2008
  37. Dan Freeman said:

    Put at the swimming pool where they can perform for their friends and also it´s where they want it.

    January 27, 2008
  38. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    I will try and answer some of the questions that are being asked and will also comment a bit on location. As far as questions of old skatepark vs. new skatepark I will say this topic has been discussed (and put in print) dozens of times within the community. In short waivers, cost, limited hours, structure composition helped to deal a deathly blow to the park. These issues have been rectified.

    As far as location goes, the skaters were initially very excited about the location of memorial park (still are). The location is nearly perfect and many successful skateparks are located next to pools. The Park Advisory Board seemed to sense an upcoming challenge from the neighborhood (at least that is our understanding) and thus highly recommended focusing more on Ames Park. The Skateboard Coalition resisted Ames Park at first but grew “fonder” of it, especially when it seemed that picking Ames would expediate the process. The thought of the skatepark being a welcome for travelers into Northfield was quite an exciting thought. Today it seems the Coalition members would be comfortable (and excited) with Ames or Memorial Park. I do think they would be happier with Memorial, but at this point they would be happiest with approval (and money earmarked) from city council for a park. I think others have nailed all the pros and cons for this and that location within this thread so i will say nothing on this. The collective skate plaza, kayaking park, bandshell, Mill Towns Trail, DJJD carnival, ice rink in the winter is a fine idea but I would hate to have the skateboarders wait another two or three years while various parties try to work out the logistics.

    One more nitpicky thing: the location will effect businesses. Believe it or not, skateboarders do have money and will spend it when they can. If the park is attractive enough, it will also bring in skateboarders from outside the community. I lot of local skateboarders (and their families) currently spend their money in Faribault, Burnsville, and other places because of their skateparks.

    Congratulations for Northfield being selected as one of America’s 100 best communities for young people – The Skateboard Coalition is one of the reasons they were selected. Many skateboarders will interviewed and conversed with before this selection was made.


    January 30, 2008
  39. The Northfield News poll showed that 41% of the 176 polled wanted the skatepark in Memorial Park, 19% said we didn’t need one, 16% thought it should be at Ames Park, 13% thought a diffrent location, and 11% thought Babcock Park….

    I thought that was intresting, even though it was a small number.

    January 30, 2008
  40. Griff Wigley said:

    Josh, thanks much for that detailed response. It’s good to know that the Skateboard Coalition would be happy with either Ames or Memorial.

    Hayes, thanks for alert on the Nfld News straw poll. I missed that. Maybe LoGroNo should do one for comparison.

    February 2, 2008
  41. Griff Wigley said:

    In today’s Nfld News, Suzy Rook has a story titled Ames vs. Memorial: katepark location.

    Each property has its benefits and drawbacks, supporters and opponents. Here we give a few of those in the know an opportunity to toss in their two cents.

    Among those weighing in:

    • Taylor McCloskey, Skateboarder
    • Ruth Amerman, Member, Skatepark Coalition
    • Capt. Roger Schroeder, Northfield Police Department
    • Joe McGowan, Founder, Skatepark Coalition
    • Richard Vanasek, Chair, Northfield Parks & Recreation Advisory Board
    • Mary Nelson, parent
    • Hayes Scriven, Director Northfield Historical Society, Defeat of Jesse James Days committee member
    • Noah Cashman, City council liaison, Parks & Recreation Advisory Board
    • Proposed Northfield Parks Master Plan

    February 2, 2008
  42. Griff Wigley said:

    Park and Rec board chair Richard Vanasek has a guest column in today’s Nfld News in which he argues for locating the skateboard plaza in Ames Park, taking issue with the paper’s recent editorial: Ames not best choice for new skate park. Vanasek finishes with this:

    Old Memorial Park has the potential to be a wonderful park if we stick to its skillfully designed master plan. The enormous success and popularity of the outdoor pool last summer bears witness to this. Why jeopardize that park/pool complex by including a skateboard park for which no provisional plans were made? The master plan for Old Memorial Park has green spaces, linked by trails, surrounded by trees. In conclusion, Old Memorial Park should be promptly developed as planned and the skateboard park should be located where it belongs, in Ames Park.

    February 9, 2008
  43. Anne Bretts said:

    I’m in favor of a skateboard park. The fundamental problem with Ames is that you are trying to get boarders to quit skateboarding through downtown by making them carry their boards through downtown to get to Ames. That just makes no sense.
    Inviting every boarder in town to come to a great park and not allowing them to use their boards to get there simply guarantees an ongoing battle. Allowing them to use their wheels just adds more stress to a congested transportation zone.
    Just asking, but what about the open space around City Hall? It has lighting, public restrooms, access to downtown, relatively easy access from neighborhoods. Is there enough space behind the current safety center?
    It just seems that Ames would be a great place for concerts, gardens, a sculpture park, tot play space, and activities tied to more use of the river and maybe Ames Mill as an eventual location for the historical society or other public use. Those are all activities and uses that would interfere with kids boarding. The kids shouldn’t have a park they can use only part of the time.
    It seems finding a dedicated space for boarding would make more sense than sharing Ames with incompatible uses.

    February 9, 2008
  44. Tracy Davis said:

    I believe our podcast from last April also had information about the skate park idea that would answer at least some of the questions from commenters above.

    February 9, 2008
  45. Bill Ostrem said:

    On the issue of how skateboarders can get around town, Sean Hayford O’Leary and I, as members of the Task Force on Nonmotorized Transportation, did some research on the relevant city and state laws. In summary, skateboarders can travel on sidewalks everywhere but downtown; they can travel on streets but must obey traffic laws; and they can use bike lanes on streets.

    At the Park Board’s request, Sean put together a nice summary of the relevant laws. City staff now have this document for reference at the upcoming Park Board meeting.

    February 9, 2008
  46. Griff Wigley said:

    The Locally Grown straw poll (Which location do you prefer for the Skate Plaza?) is now closed.

    Total votes: 114.

    • Memorial Park (adjacent to the outdoor pool) – 73 (64%)
    • Ames Park (adjacent to downtown) – 41 (36%)

    Hayes Scriven (Comment #40 above) reported the results of a late January Northfield News poll.

    Total votes: 176 total.

    • Memorial Park – 41%
    • Didn’t need one – 19%
    • Ames Park – 16%
    • Different location – 13%
    • Babcock Park – 11%
    February 11, 2008
  47. Well, they are all small number but both polls say the park should not be in Ames.

    February 11, 2008
  48. Paul Fried said:

    It’s too bad that things are unfolding this way, considering that they had all the neighborhood meetings and input regarding the pool location, which was great…

    …and they had a plan for Memorial park that was arrived at somewhat by consensus or at least inclusion….

    But now we’re watching a process that seems to have been guided, to a great extent, but some good ideas from youth (fine, good), and what appears to be a rush-to-judgment process that hasn’t been seeking neighborhood input from those around Memorial Field. Why a heavy push for Memorial before you have a formal process for nearby resident input? Or has that taken place already?

    I spoke with one resident who was active in the pool-at-Memorial discussions and process, and it seems there may be some short-circuiting of the process taking place.

    Straw polls and such are fine, but very unscientific and unrepresentative.

    I’d rather not see blog discussions, straw polls and park administrators have undue influence on a process that should carefully welcome resident input.

    And I also hear that skateboard organizations specifically recommend that skateparks * not * be located in residential areas like Memorial because of noise and other issues. It seems some skaters have paid attention and studied what works and what doesn’t, and they say the parks should be in other sorts of locations (I’m trusting a reliable verbal source on this, but others with more direct information should chime in).

    February 13, 2008
  49. Paul Fried said:

    Yikes, was I ever out of the loop! Should have waited till the paper came out….

    What to make of the disconnect between the straw poll and the Park Board decision?

    Did someone rent a bus to transport skateboarders down from the cities to vote in the straw poll? That would be a sh…. thing to do…..

    (Pardon the Griff-parody… I could not resist….)

    February 13, 2008
  50. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s the link, Paul: Nfld News: Parks board recommends Ames for a skatepark.

    Ames Park got near-unanimous approval as the preferred choice for a new city skatepark Tuesday, but it will be at least two months before the city council gets to weigh in on the decision. The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board voted 5-1 to recommend the park at the corner of Hwy. 3 and Fifth Street. Board member Dennis Easley voted against the measure.

    February 13, 2008
  51. Griff Wigley said:

    From Al Roder’s Feb. 15 weekly memo:

    Public Services hosted the Park and Recreation Advisory Board meeting Tuesday night. The main topic of discussion was the selection of a recommended site for the Skate Board Plaza. The PRAB voted 6-1 in favor of recommending Ames Park as the PRAB Preferred site. Staff will be contacting MNDOT on the use limitation issues regarding the MNDOT property/ROW within Ames Park. Staff also has had discussions this week with Malt-O-Meal on the potential impacts on Ames Mill site and staff will be working with the Defeat of Jesse James Committee to address the Ames Park – Carnival site issues. Staff is working on having a discussion with the PRAB next month on these items, prior to taking their recommendation to the City Council. 

    February 18, 2008
  52. Anne Bretts said:

    I’ve asked this before but haven’t seen an answer. How does the park board reconcile the constant issues with skateboarding through downtown with its decision to place a skateboard park in the middle of downtown, with no restrooms, no bad weather options for teens, no real plan for how flooding will impact the structure and no site plan that shows how all the uses of Ames Park will work together?
    It seems that all the concern last summer and all the pledges to help combat crime and drug use by giving kids a safe and supportive community with positive activities only works when people don’t actually have to do anything. Really, we’re not talking about residents volunteering to actually do anything with kids, we’re just talking about letting them have a place to be kids and play in a neighborhood park.
    In my neighborhood we deal with the noise and parking issues of the soccer fields, but it’s a trade-off for having activities for kids. What’s the point of having parks if they are relegated to bare fields so neighbors are inconvenienced by children actually using them?
    As a compromise, what about the land behind City Hall? Sure, it would need grading, but it has safe access from most of town, lighting and public restrooms at City Hall.

    February 18, 2008
  53. Griff Wigley said:

    “Approve location” is on tonight’s Council agenda. See the article in Sat. Nfld News and NDDC president Mary Rossing’s commentary on the skatepark titled City Council needs to carefully consider skate park location.

    Before moving ahead with plans to build a skateboard park I believe that we need to look at the whole of downtown, its parks, green spaces, trails and form a comprehensive plan for how we want to develop these unique resources.

    I have my own dreams for Ames Park: A cereal bowl shaped band shell for music performances; ice skating in the winter and moving the depot in to serve as warming house, concession stand, bike and kayak rental, and rest room for the two seasons of skaters. Ames Park should be a real community park and an asset to downtown.

    March 17, 2008
  54. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s the text from tonight’s Council meeting packet re: the skatepark, submitted by Joel Walinski, Director of Public Services and Brian Erickson, Public Works Operations Engineer.

    The City Council is being asked to approve Ames Park as the location for the Skateboard Plaza as recommended by the Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB). If approved the PRAB will then select a landscape architect consultant to develop an Ames Park Master Plan to best locate and design the skateboard plaza to fit within the landscape and area of Ames Park. Ames Park is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of 5th Street and State Highway 3; it is bordered by Highway 3, 5th Street, and the Cannon River. Ames Mill is located directly north of the park land (attachment #1).

    The current estimated design size of the Skateboard Plaza is 12,000 sq. ft. The proposed design is of concrete construction with urban streetscape items placed within the area. The estimated costs at this time are $180,000 – $240,000. Fund raising efforts are currently underway by the Skateboard Coalition. The Council has also suggested in the past some City funding maybe used for the project. The current City Capital Improvement Plan has a placeholder of $30,000 for the project.

    Summary of Public Process

    The City Council on May 7, 2007 directed the PRAB to work with the Skateboard Coalition to develop a process for selecting a site, design, and cost for a future skateboard plaza area and to include a skateboard plaza within the development of the Park System Master Plan.

    As a follow-up, the PRAB identified the selection of a location for the Skateboard Park/Plaza as a critical element to be completed during the preparation of the Northfield Parks, Open Space and Trail System Plan (System Plan). The three locations that were identified by Brauer & Associates, Ltd. as being potential sites for the Skateboard Park are:

    • Ames Park
    • Babcock Park/Rodeo Grounds
    • Old Memorial Field Park

    In order to involve the public in the selection process an Open House was held on January 17, 2008 so that public input could be received by the PRAB. A consensus of the PRAB, Skateboard Coalition, and other interested members of the community, the Babcock Park/Rodeo Grounds location was removed from consideration because of general location and access. A summation of the comments received at the open house, identified issues from public discussion, as well as several written letters and e-mails received by staff on the two remaining sites were used to develop the discussion points below:

    Ames Park:

    • Lack of parking at Ames Park; however, the Water Street Parking lot is relatively close as is other public downtown parking. Providing a parking area at Ames Park would be nearly impossible due to access limitations and existing MNDOT right of way. Improvements to the pedestrian access on the 5th Street bridge would be beneficial to providing better access. This has previously been discussed as a future project with the Mayor’s Streetscape Taskforce meetings concerning the Water Street/5th Street Project.
    • The impacts of locating the skateboard plaza within in the flood plain currently identified in the park would be minimal. Additional information and discussion would be needed with the Department of Natural Resources.
    • Planned shoreline improvements and increased user activity should reduce the current goose population at Ames Park and thus reduce the impact on the skateboard park.
    • Currently the City of Northfield provides temporary restrooms (port-a-potties) at several locations throughout the City. Providing this amenity as well as trashcans and some decorative fencing could be provided as part of the overall design. The fencing could also serve as a method of reducing the possibility of skateboards being sent into the street.
    • Increased skateboarding activity within the downtown area was identified as a potential issue as skateboarders make their way to Ames Park. This is a potential issue from users residing on the east side. The same issue could be made for placement of the skateboard plaza at Memorial Field Park with users coming from the west side of town. Continued enforcement of City ordinances will be needed independent of the location selected.
    • The central portion of property that was purchased by the City of Northfield from MNDOT does require that this land be continually used as parkland. Staff has talked with MNDOT and received confirmation that the placement of the skateboard plaza on this area does meet with the MNDOT guidelines for parkland. Depending on the exact placement of the skateboard plaza within Ames Park further discussions and negotiations with MNDOT maybe required if the skateboard plaza is placed on MNDOT Highway 3 Right-of-Way.
    • Staff has had discussions with the owners of Ames Mill, Malt-O-Meal, located on the adjacent north border of Ames Park. Malt-O-Meal is concerned with increased pedestrian traffic and unauthorized parking if the skateboard plaza were to be located at Ames Park. Discussions on limiting access include additional fencing at the Ames Mill site, which could be similar to the parking lot edge treatment included in the Streetscape Enhancement Framework Plan.
    • The City and Malt-O-Meal have an understanding for the use of a portion of Ames Park as the staging area for the Dam Project tentatively scheduled for 2009. Depending on the specific location and placement of the skateboard plaza within Ames Park, the development of the plaza could be delayed until after the completion of the Dam project.
    • Ames Park is the current location for several community events, the most significant being the carnival associated with the Defeat of Jesse James Day festival (DJJD). Staff has had several conversations with their representatives and will be attending their monthly meeting in March to continue developing potential alternative sites.
    • The Northfield Economic Development Authority identified some economic benefit from the placement and development of the skateboard plaza in Ames Park.

    Memorial Park:

    • The bathrooms at the pool are designed for the use of pool patrons only. This is due to the fact that there is no exterior access to those facilities and retrofitting them would be cost prohibitive. In addition, due to the design of the building the bathrooms are only available for approximately 6 months of the year because of a lack of heat in the buildings. Issues that would need to be addressed if these facilities would be considered for additional use would be security, increased daily maintenance, and potentially added vandalism.
    • The parking lot could be dual use for both pool and skateboard park; however, during winter months the parking lot is not currently plowed. The parking lot was constructed to allow for its use as future ice rink location if additional funding for maintenance and warming house facilities was made available.
    • Currently the only lighting at the pool is security lighting and additional lighting for the site is not planned. Once the pool is closed and prepared for the winter those security lights will be turned off until the pool is prepared for the next season.
    • The existing Park Master Plan for Old Memorial Field Park adopted by the Council in 2006 does not identify a skateboard plaza within the park area nor was a skateboard plaza included in the potential uses for the site developed through the community input process. A park master plan is not a static vision for future park development. Park master plans must be allowed to change as the various community priorities for recreational opportunities for the community youth and residents are identified and developed over time.
    • Staff did receive a number of letters, petitions, and comments from local area residents on the east side stating their opposition to locating a skateboard plaza at Old Memorial Field Park. The issues identified included additional noise, lighting, reduction in green space, concerns over potential increased vandalism, etc.

    SUBMITTED BY: Joel Walinski, Director of Public Services

    Brian Erickson, Public Works Operations Engineer

    March 17, 2008
  55. Anne Bretts said:

    What a lost opportunity!
    Memorial is a great spot for a skate park, and the skate park is a great way for teens to become involved with the entire facility and help grow that into a real recreation center for families.
    Neighbors are short-sighted in rejecting this.
    Ames Park has such potential as a public plaza and community garden, creating an area for wedding and prom photos, outdoor receptions and a grand reception area connected to Ames Mill as a future arts or history center. Just think of the opportunities to use that area to link the highway to downtown and create a real gathering spot for the community to complement what is possible in Bridge Square.
    The safety center can be re-used as a place run by local teens as a bike/kayak rental center, along with a concession stand and bike trailhead/visotors center. The lower level could be a new teen center.
    A bandshell and skate park both would fit in separate parts of Riverside Park, creating a chain of public spaces amid the business areas of downtown. A bandshell there would make concerts accessible to the many seniors near Riverside and the skatepark would draw kids downtown without having them skate through it.
    Look at the total impact: a new safety center at Woodley and Hwy. 3, Veterans Park, a skatepark, bandshell, a repurposed old safety center/new visitor center, and Ames Park as a public garden/plaza. Over time, the city will end up with a cohesive string of public pearls. Together, they will link the private business areas and encourage traffic to and through them. Continue this across the highway to the Q block in a Depot-themed business center or a public/private use and you have amazing and cohesive downtown strategy.

    March 17, 2008
  56. Jerry Bilek said:

    I disagree with parts of your assessment. First of all, the decision has not been made, so voice your concern at the council meeting. Second, I think you are overlooking the park boards plan for Memorial field as a community garden with walking paths.

    The other ideas you mentioned can still happen.

    The part I agree with is that a skate plaza location decision should be part of the comprehensive plan for memorial field and Ames park.

    I hope the park board and council have long term plans for Ames, Old Memorial field and Way Park that can be implemented over time. I agree that the items you mentioned are good ideas for the park board and council to consider for the various locations, but I do believe the skate plaza could fit into those plans.

    March 17, 2008
  57. Griff Wigley said:

    The Council voted 4-3 tonight to “approve Ames Park as the location for the Skateboard Plaza as recommended by the Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB).”

    FOR: Lansing, Cashman, Davis, Nelson
    AGAINST: Pokorney, Denison, Vohs

    March 17, 2008
  58. Joshua Hinnenkamp said:

    Finally the skateboarders have a location. I am happy and grateful by all the work and time put in by members of the Park Board, City Council, City Staff, and the SkatePark Coalition involving this matter. This has been a grueling process full of what Jim Pokorney called “Politics 101.” The debate by City Council was the best debate I have heard about the location yet (and I have been to a lot of Park Board and City Council meetings involving the matter). It was too bad this important discussion didn’t happen earlier, like 6 months ago – before a major decision was on the line. A big thanks goes to Jim Pokorney who seemed to bring up the most important issue: we can talk all we want about where NOT to put a skatepark, but we should really be focusing the discussion on the best place to put a skatepark, regardless of whether certain special interest groups will get offended. It is too bad that we heard mainly “not here” discussions with the Park Board (some exceptions by certain members). I regret that the Park Advisory Board, in all their numerous meetings, wasn’t able to bring a balanced discussion forth, like seen today at the City Council meeting. Positives about Memorial and negatives of Ames were not touched upon at all by certain members of the Park Board and thus muted the overall discussion. The February Park Board approval of Ames was not surprising. Many members wore their opinions on their sleeves and seemed to have their minds made up and closed off before debates took place. Why debate, when you know which way you are going to vote? Don’t get me wrong. I am excited to deal with these safety issues at Ames efficiently and start building our skatepark. I just wish that earlier Park Board discussions would have consisted of the viability of Ames Park considering the safety issues of speeding traffic and crossing major highways instead of what seemed like a discussion of “it’s not Memorial Park.” The Council meeting today was a real discussion that will help us move on to the next step. Now let’s fix these safety issues by Ames and get digging.

    Will the costs of improving safety by Ames Park be too expensive? Will Riverside Park get thrown back into the picture? Stay tuned and find out.

    March 18, 2008
  59. Anne Bretts said:

    No problem, there’s lots of room to disagree. It’s how ideas grow and evolve. I’m just wondering about the priorities for the entire city in these decisions. Is it realistic to be talking about community gardens at Memorial and Way parks, which are mainly neighborhood parks, but not at Ames and Riverside, which are at the heart of the city? Gardens are nice but extremely labor intensive and expensive, so it would seem the city’s priorities would be to do the most central locations first.
    As for the resistance of neighbors at Memorial, after all the talk about kids needing community support, it is sad to think that making room for kids to play in a huge park is too much to ask. It’s sad to think neighbors might be willing to do all the work of tending gardens but not the work of tending to the blooming of our kids.
    And before people say that I’m advocating for an imposition on others, there’s a huge space behind the homes in our neighborhood and I would have been glad to have the park here.

    March 18, 2008
  60. Griff Wigley said:

    Great comment on last night’s meeting, Josh. I never attended any PRAB meetings on the issue so it’s surprising to hear that their discussions weren’t of wide-ranging nature that you described.

    It was odd to hear so much interest in Riverside Park among the councilors since it hasn’t been on anyone’s radar.

    After listening to Pokorney, I found myself regretting that I didn’t speak at open mic, as I really like the Ames Park location for the skateplaza and I don’t have a ‘special interest’ in it being there nor an aversion to it being at Memorial. I’m thinking now, though, that it might help to have a new blog post here on LG titled something like:

    Making Ames Park a great place for the skate plaza and other community uses.

    Any other suggested titles? 

    March 18, 2008
  61. Ross Currier said:

    Josh –

    Perhaps now that our leaders have made a decision, we can all pull together to help with the implementation. Part of that effort could be addressing recently expressed concerns with long discussed ideas.

    One concern about Ames Park seemed to be Highway 3. Going back to the 1997 Ad Hoc Committee Report to the City Council, a group chaired by the late, great Jeff Amerman and peopled by, among others, the late, great Bob Jacobsen, there has long been a call for a traffic signal at 3rd Street. Now is the time to make that investment in safety.

    Another concern has been about the need for “facilities”, drinking water and bathrooms. Coming as a huge surprise, at least to me, one of the top recommendations of the Chamber – NDDC Retail Support Strategies EDA Task Force was for a public restroom in downtown. Now is the time to make that investment in comfort.

    Finally, there is the concern that the skatepark is not part of a comprehensive plan for parks and recreation. Downtown stakeholders have often expressed the belief that the downtown parks are not thought of in the same way as the rest of the community’s parks. Now is the time to make that investment in recreation.

    Thanks for your comments and thanks to all the Skatepark Coalition for their vision and endurance. They have the makings of great politicians or, perhaps even better, successful community builders.

    – Ross

    March 18, 2008
  62. Mary Rossing said:

    Might I suggest “Making a comprehensive plan for recreation downtown”. Let’s discuss what facilities and ammenities we need, and what dreams do we have for these public resources. It will be so important to have a good plan in place before we start digging in order for the skatepark in Ames park to succeed (there are always the nay-sayers waiting to say “I told you so”). I want more than anything to see this park succeed at a vital and vibrant addition to our downtown!

    We all want good things happening in downtown–just don’t quite know what this means or looks like yet. My hope is that the stakeholders can be directly involved in the process from the get-go,not just reacting to a consultant’s plan at an open house. By the way, I think the NDDC would love help facilitate a brain storming community meeting for one of their forums.

    March 18, 2008
  63. kiffi summa said:

    The skateoard coalition has met and worked every week for at least two years: They are the stakeholders!

    These kids have had the proverbial patience of JOB, and worked in solid political grassroots fashion to achieve their goal.

    Please, adults, PLEASE… do NOT now say you have to step in and “make it work”. Adults would not do that to another adult organization; don’t think that because its a youth organization it needs to be told what to do.

    It needs SUPPORT, that’s all. It needs concept and fiscal SUPPORT. If it’s not their park, it won’t work, won’t be used.

    Please trust these incredible kids…….they have done an exemplary job from idea, to concept, to design, and through a long political process.

    Reward them with your SUPPORT.

    March 18, 2008
  64. Griff Wigley said:

    Also, today’s Nfld News editorial is on the skateplaza: With site picked comes more work.

    There are several factors that will need to be dealt with in order to move forward with construction at Ames:

    The factors they list are  money, MOM, infrastructure, and an ordinance.

    March 19, 2008
  65. Mary Rossing said:

    Perhaps I should clarify what I meant by “stakeholders”. I believe that anyone involved with downtown should take an interest in how our public lands are developed. No, of course we should not interfere in the design of the itself–the kids have done a tremendous job with this already and this is why they have had the success they have–lots of hard work! And I will support their continued efforts with money and concept.

    But just because the skate park is “theirs” it doesn’t mean that Ames park is theirs alone. This is a community space. That is where we can hopefully have some say in making that a workable multi-pupose place for a variety of activities and recreation opportunities. And push for facilities (restrooms, access, parking etc) that will benefit the skate park AND downtown. I’m excited about the possibilities…but we need to talk about what we want the whole two acres to look/feel like. (And the other green spaces in downtown!) I’m trying to look at a bigger picture so we aren’t reacting to a consultant’s plan with no input upfront.

    March 19, 2008
  66. kiffi summa said:

    Mary: Please know that my very annoyed sounding post re: stakeholders was not directed to your specific comments. O f course the entire area shhould be looked at as to how the rest of the surrounding amenities will unfold.

    Frankly, i was very annoyed and disgusted after the Monday council meeting where instead of voting on what was presented by the PRAB, the council once again ignored their own Boards/Commissions recommendation and started down a whole new path, to a new location.

    Where have they been the last year and a half? The council ,and staff both express displeasure if a project seems to be at a decision point, and then the public raises questions and a lot of “new” suggestions. Usually when this happens it is because there has not been sufficient info out to the public, or the public input up to that point has been ignored.

    In this case there have been repeated interactions between the Park Board(PRAB) and the Skateboard coalition, and also with the council at worksessions, etc.

    It seems that these kids can expect to have little skateboarders of their own before this council will speak to the issues that have been ongoing for a long while now.If Arnie Nelson hadn’t changed his vote, the whole site selection process would have gone back to the PRAB to start over.

    If the council overturns the vote of a Board or commission, they are now required by law to explain in writing why they did not accept the recommendation. What could they possibly have said? “Sorry, we just weren’t paying attention?”

    March 19, 2008
  67. Mary Rossing said:

    I agree Kiffi. One of the most frustrating things is serving on a board/commission/committee of any kind, and not having your recommendations listened to. Makes you wonder what the heck you’re doing there, and why you didn’t just stay home with a nice glass of wine instead. I think we may have learned one thing out of the park board’s recommendation, though. It may be important to make sure there is representation from all areas of town on this board–maybe by ward and a couple “at large” members, like the council. If this were the case, the recommendation may have been different (?). Oh well, now I’m psyched about the skatepark and the energy it will bring to downtown.

    March 20, 2008
  68. Joshua Hinnenkamp said:

    Good comments Kiffi and Mary. I couple things that I would like to weigh in on (my acidic tongue is coming out). I agree that the City Council members should have come to the Coalition early on in the process if they thought that the old skate park location was a spot that we shouldn’t ignore. The skateboarders would have listened and discussed internally on whether they like it or not (my guess is that it would have been a good third choice, much more likable than Babcock, but if convinced it would expediate the process we would have listened). The only reason Ames was a major part of the discussion was because certain Park Board members (one especially), kept hammering home the idea that Memorial would never happen – that it was a wasted attempt. Initially we listened but disagreed, but after other park board members became very clear in the meetings that they would never even consider Memorial, we changed course and started looking into Ames (this is not a blanket statement – certain PB members did listen). We were right to do so as the 5-1 Park Board meeting indicates. We do like Ames, and are happy with the approval. We just wish the entire process hadn’t been so….ugly and politicized. Often we felt that officials were not looking out for the best interests of the youth (there are some strong exceptions and those people know who they are) and the community. That is disappointing. We expect adults to look out more for other adults and sort of put youth on a back burner, we were just hoping that we were wrong this time. With the Ames location now chosen – this will be a great opportunity for youth and adults to work together for a common goal. I am excited about this prospect and willing to put the past behind me.

    March 20, 2008
  69. Griff Wigley said:

    I got a phone call from a citizen, wondering why Northfield couldn’t have a skatepark like the Renegade Boardshop and Skatepark in Faribault… which is a for-profit, indoor facility.

    April 21, 2008
  70. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    Hey Griff – this is a reply to the question about why Northfield doesn’t want something like Renegade Park in Northfield – a for-profit park. I will be brief on the reasons. First – the cost of an indoor park is more expensive than the cost of an outdoor park (both to construct and to upkeep and pay for staff). Second – many of the skateboarders do not have access to the amounts of money that would be required to daily skate a for-profit park. Many of the skateboarders in town do not come from financially well-off families (more so than most sports I would guess). I do understand that Faribault is able to support one but they have a well-known organization (Renegade) as a sponsor and sell boards as well. If some Skate company came to the Northfield Skateboard Coalition with money for a sponsorship, I am sure we would listen. Also, if Northfield did open up an indoor park like Renegade it might very well put both parks out of business. Variety is good. Thirdly – indoor and for-profit parks mean insurance (and helmets and pads). This is part of the reason why indoor parks cost around $7 – $10 per entry (even with regular use discounts it is still a chunk of change). Fourthly, the kids of this town in the Skateboard Coalition are rather keen on the street style of skating and this is not what Renegade or an indoor park represent. There are many other reasons, but these are a few of the ones that stick out in my head at the moment.

    The youth like Renegade park but if we incorporate some old and new style skating, keep it under four feet, and make it permanent (concrete), keep it free, have it outdoors, and keep letting the youth make the decisions on this park, then this will ultimately equal a successful park. The youth skateboarders of this town have spoken, and although they haven’t agreed on everything, they have made their decisions democratically. ALL skateboarders ages 12-20 have an equal voice if they show up to the weekly Skateboard Coalition meetings every Wednesdays 5:00pm @ The Key.

    April 21, 2008

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