Skateboard Park at Emcon site meets resistance
‘To skate or not to skate’ in Rossland may not be the most pertinent question in the campaign to get a skate park built in town. Instead, ‘where to skate’ and ‘where to locate a skate park’ seems to be drawing a lot more attention recently.
During its December 14th meeting, council approved the RSA’s (Rossland Skate park Association) recommended site in the northwest corner of the Emcon yard for a skate park not to exceed 1400 square meters. 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. This dedication was the first of what will be a number of steps the RSA will have to undertake before getting final approval from the city to construct the park. A potentially major hurdle to overcome will be getting the approval of neighbors around the Emcon site for the project.
So far, the process has involved a public consultation with area residents at the arena meeting room. The meeting itself was respectful in nature and dialogue has continued between the two groups as they hash out issues and begin solving them where possible.
Recently a petition has been circulating, initiated by neighboring residents to the proposed skate park site, against situating the park in the Emcom lot. That is not to say these resients are anti-skate park. As a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous explained, “We just think there is a better location for the skateboard park. We’re not against it at all. We just think there is better use for that land. Most of the people who live near the site do not want a skate park there.”
The group, which has over 150 signatures on their petition so far, has a number of concerns on about the proposed location. Among their chief concerns are noise created at the site, possible late night partying and whether or not the skate park fits with the OCP and Uptown Station plans.
The group is suggesting other potential locations such as down in Centennial Park, at the Centennial trail-head or perhaps even the opposite corner of the Emcon lot, across from RSS where there are fewer houses nearby. The group will be submitting their petition and sending a delegation to city council in the near future.
An underlying feeling among the group is that they were involved too late in the process and would like to have been consulted by the city or RSA before council made its decision.
Aaron Cosbey, who has been leading the skateboard park charge, understands the neighbors’ concerns. “We will be sending in a recap of the neighborhood meeting to council this week with the recommendation that they not change their original proposal,” explained Cosbey, adding that “the neighbors have a point that the process wasn’t what it could have been leading up to the decision for approval or planning. We have a lot of sympathies with their arguments and their points, so I think we need a more comprehensive process.”
Cosbey’s group will be asking council for advice on how to best run the process and may even ask council to get involved. Notes Cosbey, “ The neighbors in that area, while we have good relationships with most of them, are not going to trust us if we are the ones leading a more comprehensive process. So we might need council to step in and lead that process.”
Another concern of residents was a potentially ugly concrete site and the group not following through with their presentation, which shows trees and landscaping. “We presented this beautiful blueprint of what it would all look like and they have asked, “What if you get money to build the park but not do any of the landscaping?” On that particular point and others we’d suggest that council makes it necessary for approval to complete the landscaping things like that to guarantee that we do certain items.”
“It’s been really good. I didn’t know what to expect at the public meeting, but it was very fair and civil. We’re delighted to go through this process and believe it’s essential to have a good airing of the issues. I can’t see a bad outcome from going through this. The final outcome will be a good skate park in a good place.”
Moving forward, RSA will be organizing another meeting for the weekend after Red Mountain closes to bring together all of the people who have said they want to help out, basically everyone who is keen to see a skate park happen in town. “We’ll form into six task forces to start working on all of the areas we need to address, and will keep going on our fundraising,” added Cosbey.
If everything goes according to plan, the RSA hopes to start construction as soon as the summer of 2011.
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