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Santa's a skater? A Christmas victory on the Rossland skate park front
The Rossland Skate Park Association (RSA) got an early Christmas present from Rossland City council at the last regular council meeting on December 14th.The group which has been working for over a decade towards its ultimate goal of seeing a world class skate park constructed in town took a big step towards making that dream a reality.
After a brief discussion and debate in which councillors were generally all on side for assisting the RSA take another step forward, council approved the recommended site in the northwest corner of the Emcon yard for a skate park not to exceed 1400 square meters and further council dedicated this site to the Rossland Skate Park association for up to two years in order to allow the RSA to explore and fully leverage funding possibilities.
While not the final step in getting full approval to build a skate park on the Emcon yard, this step by council now allows the RSA to go out and seek the financial support and fundraising they’ll need to construct the park.
Aaron Cosby, who has been championing the effort, was delighted with the result, and while this isn’t the final step in the process he believes it is a critical piece of the puzzle.
“It’s a necessary step in getting the financing. You can’t approach any funder and say we want to build a skate park but we don’t have a site. This is our first step and it’s the hurdle that is the hardest hurdle to cross. It is what has kept Trail from getting their skate park approved and Rossland from getting a skate park for the last decade or more. They could never settle on where it could go. Now that we’ve settled on where it can go we’re off to the races. It’s only the first step, however, of many steps. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Their pro-active approach has served the group well. Aaron Cosby and crew underwent a fairly extensive process to determine exactly the best location for the skate park.
“We went out and did a thorough process of surveying of all the potential sites for it on a list of 20 criteria. We did site visits on all of them with a committee of five of us going around doing the evaluations. Then we sat down and did a cross site examination. When we worked it out, there was no comparison. The Emcon lot was the hands down winner. It’s centrally located, it’s a visible spot and it has shown time and time again that if you put a skate park in a spot like that it gets respected and it gets cleaned up. It’s not a hangout for undesirable behaviour. Kids understand when you give them something good. When you give them a trashy spot somewhere out of the way they understand that too and treat it like trash. For a lot of reasons Emcon was the prime location.”
While not specifically mentioned, the group believes that the skate park is a natural fit with Rossland’s OCP and the mid-town transition area outlined in the plan. Their hope is that a skate park will be the spark that helps the Uptown Station plan get underway.
“Basically (the midtown transition area) proposes making that lot into a civic plaza. It fits perfectly with our concept. This will be the first building block in that plaza. It doesn’t take up a whole lot of that lot. It’s the first step, though. You build that, then maybe an amphitheatre, a place for farmers markets and gardens, Canada day celebrations, maybe some light commercial along Washington. They did a lot of thinking on that plan and as far as we’re concerned it fits in with what they have in mind for it.”
The next steps for the RSA will be initiating a dialogue with the surrounding neighbours of the site to hear their concerns and incorporate that into their plan. The group is very much interested in and plans to make the skate park a real collaborative effort between the immediate neighbours, residents in general, park users and city hall to get something that works well for all interested parties.
The park itself is planned to be approximately 15,000 square feet. For comparison, the Castlegar skate park is slightly smaller at 10,000 square feet. The group estimates the total fundraising they’ll need to come up with will range somewhere in the $250,000 to $500,000 range to create a world class skate park on the site. That figure, of course, depends on how much volunteer time and donations they can raise to assist with the project. The group believes it will receive substantial support given the enthusiasm of local kids and parents for the project.
While this achievement is a major victory, city Planner Mike Maturo explained that it is merely step one of a five or six step process in getting the park built.
“It’s not a done deal. It’s just a commitment from council that the municipality at this stage is comfortable with them potentially securing funding for the site but it doesn’t have approval in an ultimate sense. There is more process ahead. It gets them something to help them get started.”
“There is a lot of process to be undertaken. A zoning bylaw change demands a public hearing, so that would be part of the process. That’s why we said two years=--ecause RSA would need to actually go out and secure funding, get some dialogue going with the neighbours and things like this.”
If all goes according to plan the RSA hopes to be potentially digging and constructing the park as soon as the summer of 2011. For now, however, they will continue to rally support for the project in the community while working collaboratively with all interested parties as they embark on their fundraising efforts.