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Skateboard park may be in jeopardy

Plans to bring a skateboard park to an area south of Hatfield Park took a hit at the most recent Park Board meeting. (Imagery ©2015 Google, Map data ©2015 Google)

The push to build a skateboard park in the City of New Richmond appears to be losing steam.

At an April 29 Park Board meeting, Public Works Director Jeremiah Wendt reported to the board that the project has come to an early halt as the city has not been able to get a signed agreement in place with Mary and Irv Sather, who expressed a desire to contribute $40,000. As a result, the city has delayed in entering into an agreement with American Ramp for specific design work.

“There’s a concern that it’s not addressed in the Park Plan,” Wendt told the board.

He indicated that the Sathers were unwilling to sign an agreement and give up their funds until a concept plan is in place. But Wendt said the city in unwilling to spend the roughly $2,500 needed to develop a concept plan without the assurance that the Sathers donation would be in place.

“It’s kind of a chicken and egg type of thing where it’s hard to get the ball rolling,” Wendt said. “Initially the Park Board approved funding that out of impact fees if we had a contract in place saying we have a commitment of X amount of dollars to fund this thing. Nobody wants to go first.”

Irv Sather was in attendance at the meeting and voiced his displeasure while addressing the board.

“That’s the problem, you see. It was voted to have that plan done, and all of a sudden everyone is backing up and they don’t want to do the plan,” Sather said. “It’s deep-sixed. This is not unusual for several projects that have come before the City Council and this board. They’re just not done. The rubber never seems to hit the road.”

Later in the meeting, after Sather had left, board members took up the issue again while discussing an agenda item about whether to update the Park Plan to include a skateboard park.

“My only problem with the skate park has always been from Day 1 is that it was never on the Park Plan,” said District 1 Alderman Craig Kittel. “I don’t think it’s a bad idea. I don’t think it’s a good idea. But it was never truly vetted through us in my opinion. It was always the fact that someone has a bunch of money, wants to put a skate park in, and here’s what you’re going to do. I think it was kind of backwards to me, in my opinion.”

Kittel also pointed out the fact that none of the youth in the community have attended meetings of the City Council or the Park Board to advocate for a skateboard park, even when the issue was in the news.

“There haven’t been a whole lot of kids who have stepped up to say they really want this or need this,” Kittel said. “It’s been concerning to me, to be honest.”

Park Board member Tania Strawn agreed with Kittel and also cited safety and transportation concerns associated with situating the facility at Hatfield Park.

After more than 20 minutes of discussion on the topic, the board voted to table any updates to the Park Plan until its June meeting.

Other business

• The Park Board approved $4,400 to construct a ramp at the Mill Pond dam down to the sidewalk below to help connect the south and north segments of city trails and pathways. Wendt said the area is seeing a lot more bike and pedestrians since the Doughboy Trail was completed last summer. Engineers from SEH, whose office is just yards from the dam, provided pre-design advising to Wendt at no charge. Wendt also looked into moving the chain link fencing on the dam to better accommodate bikes, strollers and pedestrians.

• Six new full-service campsite have been added to the Hatfield Park campground, bringing the total number of full-service sites to 16. City streets crews, city water crews and city electric crews all had a hand in the project.

• The board approved an application from the Peterson family to place a memorial bench and plaque at Citizens Field for $800.

Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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