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Parks, Parents Differ On Skateboard Park

People spoke out for and against a park at a hearing by Skokie-Morton Grove School District 69 and the Skokie Park District.

 

With some parents opposing a skateboard park at Lincoln Junior High School and the Skokie Park District and other parents and groups supporting it, a decision on whether to build the skate park will not be made until later this month.

About 90 people came to a public hearing on the skate park Wednesday, with many stepping to the microphone to express their views. 

Michelle Tuft, superintendent of recreation and facilities for the Skokie Park District, started the session with an overview of the plans, saying there's a need for a safe place for growing numbers of skateboarders to do their thing.

Earlier:

"Skaters are forced to use streets and parking areas due to a lack of facilities," she said, adding that if a community doesn't have a skate park, then the whole community is a skate park. 

Patty O'Malley, a parent in Skokie-Morton Grove District 69, said she wasn't against a skate park, but felt Lincoln Junior High was the wrong place for it. She expressed legal and security concerns, according to the Skokie Review, and also said it had no benefit for the school district. 

Carolyn Anthony, director of the Skokie Public Library, said skateboarders often ply their craft in the library parking lot where motorists are driving, and she fears one of them will get hit, according to TribLocal. 

Skateboarders who want to skate in a skate park now have to travel to Park Ridge's Hinckley Park or one of two skateboard parks in Glenview. The Niles Park District is considering building a skate park

If approved, three governments--the park district, School District 69 and the village of Skokie--would form an intergovernmental agreement to build and run it. The village would contribute $250,000 for contruction, the park district would oversee maintenance and the school district would provide the land.

 Construction could start next spring.

Mike Reid October 09, 2012 at 12:36 PM
In addition to the $250K in TIF funds, the Skokie Park District will also be infusing a substanial amount of money to ensure the facility is up to our standards. Regarding the issue of a facility open to the public on a school's property, this already exists in Skokie. Skokie Park District has a playground on the Jane Stenson school property, and there is a running track at Old Orchard Jr High, both in Dist 68, both open to the public, with no threat to safety or legal concerns. Mike Reid President, Skokie Park District Board of Commissioners
David Zornig October 09, 2012 at 12:44 PM
The Village should consider building the skate park on the South side of Oakton St., on the stretch of vacant land around the CTA maintenance yard and golf park. It is easy to reach by the 97 bus, near the Shred Shop which supports the sport, and where and the kids hang anyway. It is a far less populated area, so public safety concerns with daily auto traffic within the library parking lot would not be an issue. It's near McCracken School, so there would still be a draw to make it successful. Surely a partnership could be reached with the lands owners, since it has gone unused for decades. A defunct radio station used to operate from that area.
LK October 09, 2012 at 01:11 PM
So Mr. Reid, are you saying that the Skokie Park District paid for and maintains the playground and track in District 68?
Cynthia Schafer October 09, 2012 at 01:24 PM
The Skaters use Old Orchard Jr High at night. The sound of the skateboards hitting the cement echoes and makes a lot of noise. They definitely need a park.
Carmen October 09, 2012 at 02:42 PM
So skateboarders are going to come from miles around to use the skatepark? Unlikely; you'll still have them on the street where they are used to boarding. I echo Zornig's comment about putting the park near the Shred Shop because that's their type of business and what their attraction is in the first place. TIF funds are supposed to be for retail redevelopment that pays tax to the community NOT an amusement park to a select few on school property.
patty o"malley October 09, 2012 at 02:55 PM
It was my understanding that the students at Jane Stenson use this playground at recess and certainly the track at Old Orchard Jr. High is used by the students as part of their curriculum. To my knowledge there is no plan or funds to build skateboarding into the curriculum at Lincoln. District 69 students can watch and hear the skateboarders during school hours. Our students are required to run the mile in gym and do so on the grass as Lincoln does not have a track. To Mr. Zornig's comment concerning location, isn't that near the 17 acres of undeveloped property east of Sports Park that the Skokie Park District already leases from the Water Reclamation District? A recent survey sent to me from the Skokie Park District asks the question...#22. Which of the following amenities do you think should be included in the underdeveloped property east of Sports Park? It lists many things but does not mention a skate park. Question 23 asks... In the future, if the Skokie Park District proposed a tax increase for park or facility development for the undeveloped property east of the Sports Park would you support it? I really do not want to get into a discussion about the many things District 68 has and District 69 does not, but there are many. We are in the business of education and enhancing the educational experience of our students. No proponent of this skate park has ever shown an educational benefit to the students of District 69.
David Zornig October 09, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I was thinking West of the mini golf, closer to Shred Shop. The odor might be a bit much on the reclamation property. And since that is overgrown with trees, it would likely cost more to develop. The old radio station land is already cleared, And it would make sense with the golf park nearby. Families could separate and do their own activities at both. And no one would ever hear a skateboard. Problem solved.
A Skokie mom October 09, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I agree with the comments that a skate park could/should be developed east of the Skokie Sports Park on Oakton. One of the reasons I have heard to explain why downtown Skokie does not have more retailers and restaurants is lack of parking. Couldn't we use any extra area we have downtown to support the local retailers and attract new ones rather than create disorganization and obstacles to parking? I love the idea of a skate park, but the proposed location seems a bit off - especially considering we have other undeveloped and under developed areas in Skokie. I feel a skate park on Oakton near the Sports Park would better honor our local business - including one very successful one named The Shred Shop.
Earl Weiss October 09, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Ditto. Tax Increment Financing, is supposed to be used to enhance prpoerty values in a TIF area which would increase tax revenue needed to pay back monies borrowed for TIF developements. TIF areas have taxes for bodies in that area frozen at the level of the TIF inception. So, this is taxes that would increase over time for the Schools and other taxing bodies to build a skate park. If you are not using it for the intended purpose, the purpose that the public was told it would be used for, then the public has been mislead.
Mike Reid October 09, 2012 at 06:35 PM
We maintain the park at Jane Stenson school, since this is a Skokie Park District facility. I was just trying to point out that a facility on public school property, open to the public, does not pose a security threat to the respective school district. And the SPD would be responsible for the maintenance of the skateboard park.
Mike Reid October 09, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Correction: We do not currently lease the undeveloped land east of Sports Park. It belongs to the MWRD, and it is scheduled for remediation by the current owners, a requirement placed upon them by government agencies.
Troy October 09, 2012 at 07:25 PM
No thank you. Let's not spend money for something that will benefit so few. This isn't play money--it's real and enough is enough. Liability - It's difficult to believe there is no more inherent risk from a skate park than a playground or soft running track. Use - chances are good that a skateboarder on the north side of town isn't going to stop its activity there, if they have to travel a few miles to get to a skate park.
LK October 09, 2012 at 07:56 PM
I think it's safe to say that the school playground and track are not so unique that they are marketed to be a regional destination as is a skate park.
patty o"malley October 09, 2012 at 08:07 PM
The issue here is that the Skokie Park District did not ask us where they should build the skate park. They took some kids on a tour of skate parks in the area and then enlisted their help in the design. They secured the funding(TIF money) from the Village of Skokie and somehow got District 69 to provide the land for $1 per year. They never asked the residents or the parents of District 69 their thoughts on the use of school property for this project. The Public Meeting on Oct. 3rd was the first time we got to speak on this issue. It is now up to the District 69 School Board to decide if this project goes forward. Still not sure how this falls under the duties of a school board or what this has to do with education.
patty o"malley October 09, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Question #21 of the Skokie Park District Survey .... Are you aware that the Skokie Park District leases 17 acres of undeveloped property east of Sports Park from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD)? Yes or no? It may be interesting to hear how that question was answered by residents. It is on the survey!
Jackie October 11, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Is there any Return-on-Investment data regarding TIF funds? I do not see how building a skate park will provide a significant return on investment. I'd like to see some numbers to prove this point. As stated at the Public Forum, some business owners are very worried about where people will use restrooms as restrooms are not currently planned by the Park Dt. As a Dt. 69 parent, I do not see how the Skate Park benefits Dt. 69 students educationally. Our Dt. faces a severe budget crisis; we had many programs taken away recently. I do not see how a Skate Park benefits the students or residents in the area.
Cynthia Schafer October 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM
I have never heard of a park having a return on investment. If that is the standard, then there would never be a park anywhere. Parks are for recreation and enjoyment. In this case, the enjoyment of children, who unfortunately never get a vote. Better that they are using a Skate park then getting into mischief.
Katie Gudgel October 12, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I agree with Cynthia that not all decisions should be based on return on investment. HOWEVER, this is to be funded with TIF money which does have restrictions on spending. I have to go back and look at the requirements and goals, but I believe that one of them is an increase in property values. So, that is a return on investment calculation - how much money will property values increase by spending this TIF money?
patty o"malley October 12, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Lets get something clear here. If Cynthia can hear the skateboarders at Old Orchard Jr. High's track at night, the 560 students at Lincoln Junior High can hear them all day. This is not about a park it is about the location of the park on school grounds. Maybe Old Orchard Jr. High could have a skate park? The only return on investment here should be the educational experience of the students at District 69 Schools. Remember the old saying "Strong Schools, Strong Community." Good schools make property values go up, not cool parks. Take a look at exactly where this proposed park will be and then decide if the kids should have a vote! I sure wish I had a vote!

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