JANESVILLE — A site for a proposed skatepark has long been on shaky ground, and Monday's 5-2 city council vote to put it in Monterey Park still doesn't put it on solid terrain. I am changing this sentence here.
Council member Frank Perrotto voted Monday night in favor of the Monterey site, but he said Wednesday he considers it only a proposed location.
“I want to make sure when we build this that it's going to be used and we have no regrets,” he said.
Council members Monday raised numerous concerns about Monterey:
-- Flooding. The proposed site floods, so staff said the park would likely be elevated. Flooding probably would preclude a bowl construction.
-- High water table. Council members wondered if freezing and thawing would crack the concrete.
-- Goose droppings. The park is a popular hangout for the large fowl.
-- The safety of young children who attend nearby Wilson Elementary School. Council member Yuri Rashkin said Monday a suggestion to close the skatepark during school hours doesn't make sense.
-- Site size. The skatepark would encroach on two practice fields, one of which is used by the Wilson football team.
“I think we're trying to plunk something in an area and make it fit where it really doesn't,” council member Russ Steeber said at the meeting.
“If you don't have a bowl, you're selling yourselves short, putting money into something that wouldn't be worth the effort,” he said Wednesday.
He and council member Tom McDonald voted against the Monterey location.
For the others, reluctance to again override a site recommendation from the leisure services committee might have contributed to their votes in favor of the Monterey site.
Council President Bill Truman, a member of the leisure services committee, warned Monday that several committee members are frustrated.
“Why serve on these committees if the council is not going to consider what we did?” he asked.
The search for a location goes back years.
The council in 2005 chose Palmer Park as the skatepark site, disregarding a leisure services committee recommendation to put it across from Lions Beach. The chair of the committee quit over that decision.
Soon after, council members questioned Palmer Park as a site and suggested that a central city site might qualify the park for federal block grant funds.
The council asked staff and the leisure services committee to do a second search. Two frontrunners surfaced—Monterey Park and a site near the batting cages on Jackson Street. The cages soon will be moved. Staff has since found that federal funds are not available for a skatepark.
The committee eventually recommended the Monterey site, which already has bathrooms. Building bathrooms at Jackson Street would increase the cost by about $100,000, staff said.
Roger Streich, who is raising money for the skatepark with his wife, Fern, told council members that he hopes to build a premiere park where tournaments can be held. He prefers a Palmer Park site.
Streich said the council should pick a site based on the kind of facility the community wants rather than pick a site and then force the skatepark to fit.
Streich has raised $26,000 in five years, and the council recently promised Streich $50,000 if he could raise $250,000 by the end of the year.
Streich has said that the council's indecision on a site hampers fundraising.
Tom Malone, management analyst for the city, said staff now will meet with the skatepark committee and Wilson staff and do soil tests.
“We feel that the site offers a lot of amenities,” he said. “The design wasn't something we looked at.”