Janesville51.3°

Proposed skate park location moves to council

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Catherine W. Idzerda
April 6, 2010
— An ollie in a park of their own.

Local skateboarders can start dreaming now.


On Monday, the Janesville Plan Commission unanimously approved a plan that would locate the long awaited skate park in Monterey Park near Wilson School.


Commission members Meredith Helgerson and Deborah Adams were absent.


The decision came after a flurry of questions regarding public safety, bathroom hours, lighting, the bike trail, flooding, the current use of the park and, as always when dealing with city parks, goose poop.


The proposal now goes to the city council, which is expected to take up the issue at its April 12 meeting.


Monday’s decision was more than five years in the making.


In 2005, a committee recommended a site across from Lions Beach, but the council said it preferred a site in Palmer Park.


In the ensuing years, the best location for the park was tossed around until last fall, when the council asked the Leisure Services Committee to reconsider four sites including Monterey Park, Jackson Street near Dawson Field, Traxler Park and a site off Rockport Road.


Roger Streich, the primary fundraiser for the park, preferred a location at Palmer Park, but now wants to see the project move forward.


Streich told the commission Monday the Palmer Park location would be perfect for a “bowl,” a desired skate park feature. He also repeated what he’s taken to saying in the past few months: A skate park someplace is better than no park at all.


In December, the council promised to give the park $50,000 if Streich raises $250,000 by Dec. 31, 2010. At the time, Streich had raised about $26,000.


After waiting for 90 minutes while the commission discussed other issues on the agenda Myles Symons, 12, expressed his concerns about the location.


“I kinda disagree with this location because of gang activity,” Symons said.


He later added, “If it floods, it could take a while for the water to get out.”


City staff said the park would not be in the flood plan but in the “flood fringe.” The ground would be built up before the skate park’s concrete base was built.


Commission member Frank Perrotto noted gang activity could happen at any location, and if the skate park is built it will be carefully monitored.


The location in Monterey Park, with its riverfront drive, would make it easy for police to check on park activity.


Myles’ father, Matt Symons, noted, “There are bad apples wherever you go.”


“We’ve been to a lot of skate parks and there are kids of every age, every size and every ability,” the elder Symons said. “There always seems to be enough parents around.”


He also thinks park funds won’t start to grow until a location is picked.


Other business

In other business Monday, the city plan commission asked staff to reconsider an proposed ordinance change that would have given the historic commission power to deny a permit for exterior work on homes in the historic district.


The denial could be overturned by the city council, but commissioners weren’t comfortable with the ordinance’s wording.


For the past 20 years, the commission has served in an advisory capacity. It could delay a property owner’s plans for months, after which a property owner could go ahead with his or her plans.



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