Determined skatepark association adding manpower and taking a new tack
In their continuing efforts to bring a decade-long dream of constructing a permanent skate park in Rossland to life, the Rossland Skatepark Association is gearing up for another campaign to nail down the location for the park. With their window of opportunity from the city getting smaller by the day, the group is revving up once more.
In December of 2009, Rossland City Council granted the RSA the use of the northwest corner of the Emcon lot in principle for two years to assist the group in its fundraising efforts and in development of a plan to bring back to the city for approval by December 2011. Early on in the process, it was determined that, due to the objections of neighbours, the Emcon lot wouldn’t be the park’s home. Since then, a number of public meetings have taken place to attempt to establish a workable location.
Thus far a consensus has not been able to be reached.
“Despite our efforts, we have not come that much closer to a final location,” explained Aaron Cosbey of the RSA. “It was decided at the last meeting that we needed to try a tack that was more inclusive, that involved the community in a more fundamental way in the decision as the park does belong to the community. As you may know, Les Carter honourably or foolishly volunteered his considerable expertise towards that end.”
The new process will consist of four key steps geared toward selecting a site, coming to an agreement, and making recommendations in a way that respects the concerns of all those affected and builds on community values of fairness and neighbourliness.
To start, the group will be doing its homework as well as asking the general public to do the same.
That homework begins with a general invitation to the whole community to participate in the process. All participants will be asked to consider the process outline and ground rules, suggest changes in the process and think about the criteria used in evaluating sites thus far as well as suggesting new criteria to be included.
Parallel to that effort, the association will be researching other communities’ experiences in successfully locating and building skate parks. The RSA has formally asked the city to assist them in this. This past Monday night at the regular city council meeting Aaron Cosbey and Les Carter requested the city either allow them to use City letterhead for additional credibility when contacting other municipalities or to have the city send out an initial introductory letter to help open doors. Use of the city’s photocopier was also requested, along with free use of the Miners’ Hall for two public meetings.
Once this work is completed, the first public meeting will be organized. Its goal will be to first agree on the overall process, then to agree on ground rules, desired outcomes, and the criteria that will be used in evaluating various potential locations. Once all that is in place, those at the meeting will then identify what additional information is needed to apply those criteria.
The second public meeting will consist of an evaluation of all proposed sites. The hope is that this meeting will generate a consensus. Should an agreement not be possible, a report will be submitted to the City outlining the results of the process, what agreements were found, what issues remain unresolved and the various factors, information and criteria considered that the City may need to make their final decision.
Les Carter, who brings extensive experience working on developing public support for community projects, most recently the Old Glory recreation area proposal, is hoping the new process can be a positive experience for all involved.
“There is a positive spin that is going to be put on this. This process is to solve a problem, not to criticize what looks like a done deal thrust down residents’ necks. This is something the community can come together on, look at the criteria we’ve chosen, the information we’ve gathered, and really solve the problem once and for all. We want people to first of all look at what is good about each site and then instead of saying, ‘it can’t be there because…’, we’ll look at what it would take to make that site work. We’re hoping to see substantial agreement over one site when we look at all the factors. We can then present what we gather through that process and say, ‘This is what the community says. Council has the authority to the final say, and this is the best the community can do in advising you what to do’.”
Council has now received the group’s report and the RSA will begin working on their new course of action right away. The hope is that the entire process can be completed by April of 2011 so that the window of opportunity granted by the city to go after grants and larger fundraising opportunities is not lost.