The infamous Skate Board Park
As I had stated in the past, Mayor Jim Ireton did not follow through at all with the letter to County Executive Rick Pollitt. In fact, Council President Terry Cohen was quite disturbed that the Mayor drafted a letter that had NO language in it that had been discussed in the former Work Session the Mayor attended and in fact refused to send his letter. He instead drafted a letter in the Council President's name and demanded she sign it.
Based on the fact that the letter did not state their true intent, the letter was never sent and Mrs. Cohen stated she would rather draft a letter that better represents their intent, so the Mayor did not move forward in good faith, as I had expected.
There were several people in attendance last night supporting the proposed Skate Park. What we all came to learn was the fact that once again, Mayor Ireton took the ball with the entire project without the involvement of the Council and simply dropped off a package that does not work in the best interest of those property owners. In fact, the Mayor's proposal was decided upon before the property owners had a chance to deliberate on it in a public format and this disturbed the Council quite a bit. Even a normal opposing Council Members agreed, the Mayor should have involved the Council President from the beginning.
While there is a deadline on the grant for this location, DNR stated that if they do not use the property on South Park Drive the grant would go away. Council President Cohen did contact the people at DNR and they completely understood the predicament the City was in and would entertain a new grant in the near future.
So the Council is going to do its best to see if the County will consider a partnership in some way and let me explain why this is in the best interest of YOU the taxpayers. It's kind of like the Salisbury Zoo situation. The CITY pays for everything, yet a large volume of visitors are actually from the County. A partnership makes much more sense. No one can deny that County residents would also use this Park. I do not personally believe it should be 100% on the backs of City residents.
That being said, here's another interesting fact that came from this meeting we were ALL amazed at. Did you know that the property Debbie Campbell proposed behind the Civic Center was purchased for $250,000.00 by Grummond and sold four years later to the County for $2,000,000.00???? There wasn't a single person in that room last night that was aware of this fact.
Nevertheless, while the Sake Park people were somewhat disappointed in last nights decision, they seemed to understand the Council wants to see this project moved forward. They simply believe a better location is in order.
Now, let's talk about the what if's on this project. What IF it becomes a problem. What IF there's a drug issue? What IF there are fights? What IF a select group of people start to control the Park and bully others from using it? There are MANY if's to this whole project and quite frankly if you look back at the history of the last Skate Park, it was closed down and the total investment was lost. IF the Police have to spend a lot of time there, this could be a major issue. Sure, the intent is great but let's be real here. For example, you have a group of people using the Skate Park and a 10 year old kid comes out there to use it. The 21 year olds seem to dominate the environment and the 10 year old chooses not to return because he/she is uncomfortable.
At one point Mayor Ireton got angry stating this is about the KIDS. Sorry Jim but let me assure you, the KIDS you mention are in their 20's and IF this was such a great idea, why does this plan have no management to it whatsoever? You liberals want to make everything out to be about the children, just like the lottery,keno, gambling income, how's it working for us Jim?
Having a 14,000 square foot Skate Board Park that is NOT policed or managed professionally in my opinion is a bad idea, period. There needs to be a LOT more talk about this project. Again, I'm NOT against such a park, nor is the Council. However, this feel good crap will only prove that history will repeat itself and the Park could get shut down. NOW, IF the Park does get closed down, what's our commitment to DNR for that Grant? Are you following me.
You see Ladies & Gentlemen, you just can't throw projects like this in front of the Council without it being fully thought out. The timing is not good, the project clearly needs a lot more thought and the City needs an experienced Mayor who will invite the Council on board to ALL projects from the very beginning.