South Jackson Street is new skatepark location
Out of left field, the Janesville City Council on Monday approved the site of the former batting cages on South Jackson Street, kicking aside a previously approved site at Monterey Park.
The council also directed city staff to work with the skatepark fundraising committee to help it raise money.
The council had promised the committee $50,000 if it could raise $250,000 by this month. It doesn't appear the council will hold the committee to that deadline.
Fern and Roger Streich have raised about $40,000 and have said the council's vacillation on locations has hurt fundraising. In 2005, the council voted to put the skatepark in Palmer Park—a site preferred by the Streichs. The council changed its mind and voted for the Monterey Park site in April.
City staff said the Monterey Park site could work with some soil remediation. The problems posed by geese are an unknown.
But council members decided Monday the site was not adequate, saying the bowl design preferred by skateboarders would not work there because of the high water table. Council members also cited the goose poop concern, said the expense of removing the soil would add to the cost of the project and noted staff at nearby Wilson Elementary School has spoken against the site.
The Jackson Street site near Dawson Fields has been suggested in the past, but the Streichs spoke against it because of the number of sex offenders who were shown to live nearby.
The Streichs' opinion about the site has since changed. A representative from a skatepark design company toured both Monterey and South Jackson Street and pronounced Jackson Street the better fit, Fern Streich told council members. It also is more in the open than Monterey, she said.
"The funding is there, providing that we get a legitimate, decent site," Streich said. Residents who had offered to donate work backed off when Monterey was chosen, he said.
"I think we've got poor Roger and his group's heads' spinning," said Russ Steeber, city council member. "Until we give Roger and his group an exact location, they can't raise the money they need."
Councilman Yuri Rashkin called the project the "invisible skatepark that floats here and there."
"It's just frustrating," he said. "We have children of Janesville trying to get a skatepark. It needs to happen. It should have happened years ago."
Eric Levitt, city manager, said the Jackson Street site has potential. Restrooms would have to be worked out and could cost $100,000. Skateboarders could use facilities at Dawson Fields. Restrooms were available at Monterey.
Levitt also said the council might want to consider returning the matter to the leisure services committee, which had suggested the Monterey site.
But Steeber urged the council to make up its mind and stick to it.
"This is going on five years that we've bounced from that location to this location," he said.
Councilman George Brunner said a more engaged city staff should help restart the stalled fundraising efforts.
Councilman Tom McDonald said the council should give the committee a site and "let them go to work. Of course they can't fundraise if they don't have a site. If they had a site, I think they could fundraise."
The vote to move the site to Jackson Street was 4 to 1.
Councilman Frank Perrotto voted no. He supported the Jackson Street site but wanted more information.
Kathy Voskuil and Bill Truman were absent.