Skate park plan put back on the agenda

Process to get another look on March 11


Published:

Something didn’t sit right with Randy McCain following a meeting of the Chugiak-Eagle River Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors last month.

“I didn’t walk away feeling the interests of the community at large were represented,” McCain told the board at its Feb. 11 meeting.

At the January meeting, a single member of the public had signed up to speak to the board about a long-discussed skateboard park tentatively planned for a location near Fire House Lane. What happened next is what concerns McCain.

About a dozen neighborhood residents ended up speaking against the plan — which hadn’t yet been finalized by the Parks Department — after which time the board voted to direct Parks Director John Rodda to abandon the site from consideration.

No skateboard park advocates showed up at the meeting. In fact, the only people to testify were residents of the neighborhood near where the proposed park would be located.

Despite the lack of public notice or testimony from potential park advocates, the board nixed the plan outright following a motion brought by board member Amy Demboski.

McCain voted against that motion, saying at the time he didn’t believe enough input had been solicited from the public.

“It’s unfair to the community at large,” McCain said.

McCain drafted a motion that will be introduced at the board’s March 11 meeting to rescind Demboski’s motion. He said he has not made up his mind one way or the other on the Fire House Lane location, but he would like the community as a whole to have input.

“We should be weighing the expected rights of the community,” he said.

McCain wants the board to revisit its procedures to ensure that everyone gets a chance to weigh in before the board takes action.

Joyce Guest lives across the street from the proposed skate park, and said she helped rally her neighbors to attend the January meeting opposing the park location.

“Maybe it wasn’t the correct procedure, but I don’t think you did the correct procedure getting the community’s involvement at all,” she said.

McCain said that’s exactly why he thinks more public process is needed.

“I think we’re saying the same thing,” he told Guest.

The board decided not to take up McCain’s motion Monday night, but the item will be on the agenda next month.

McCain stressed that he has no opinion on the skate park location — he just wants to see a fair process.

“We’re just not giving ourselves enough time to make educated decisions,” he said.

Board member Lexi Hill said McCain’s sentiment is understandable, and agreed it might be a good idea for the board to look at its process.

“That seems fairly straightforward and easy to support,” Hill said.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

Add your comment: