Janesville51.4°

Janesville city manager budgets $50,000 for skatepark

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
October 7, 2011
— A skatepark for Janesville might finally gain some momentum.

City Manager Eric Levitt has included $50,000 in the city's fall borrowing note for a skatepark at the former batting cages on South Jackson Street near Dawson Fields.


The skatepark would be adjacent to the bike trail.


Levitt has included an additional $50,000 to grade and restore city-owned property to the north at 907 S. Jackson St., which was the site of the now-demolished Allen Kitchen & Bath Center.


The council is scheduled to consider borrowing the money at its Monday meeting.


Cost of a first-phase skatepark is estimated at about $130,000. The park would be built on an existing concrete slab, saving money.


Skaters have said they prefer a bowl construction, but that would be more expensive. Previous skatepark estimates have been $250,00 or more.


The proposed design provides some of the advantages of a bowl while using the existing slab and is a "win-win," said Al Hulick of the city.


The city asked a skateboard design company what it could get for about $100,000, Assistant City Manager Jay Winzenz said.


"They came back with a proposal that isn't at the level or scale that was originally discussed, but it does provide for ramps and other features for skateboarders," Winzenz said.


The slab could be expanded and features added in the future.


The city would chip in $50,000 and continue partnering with Roger and Fern Streich, who head a private fundraising effort. Streich said Thursday he has raised about $50,000.


Levitt hopes private fundraising for the remaining $30,000 would be easier with a site selected, a plan designed, phases designated and $50,000 contributed by the city.


Streich has said the council's vacillation on choosing a site for a skatepark has hurt his fundraising efforts. He has been raising money for more than six years.


In 2005, the council voted to put the skatepark in Palmer Park—a site preferred by the Streichs. The council changed its mind, influenced by neighbors who said Palmer Park already is congested.


The council next followed a recommendation by the city's leisure services committee and tentatively approved a site in Monterey Park. But some council members worried about flooding, young students at a nearby elementary school and goose droppings.


A snag common to choosing any site was the expense of building a bathroom. The city typically budgets about $250,000 to build a restroom.


It is a problem at the Jackson Street site, too. An aging restroom there isn't handicap accessible.


Levitt said Thursday that skaters could use bathrooms at the nearby Dawson Field facility, or the city could install a portable bathroom during skating season.


Levitt said he hopes a scaled-back plan would make it easier to get the skatepark off the ground.


He hopes the remaining $30,000 could be raised by spring with the park opening shortly after.


ON THE AGENDA

The Janesville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. Council members will meet at 6 p.m. for an informal listening session with residents.


A decision on the 2012 sidewalk program, which had been delayed until this meeting because only six council members were present Sept. 26, will be delayed again because all seven members are not scheduled to be at Monday's meeting.


Items on the agenda include:


-- Discussion and action on a proposed ordinance to prohibit any person—except law enforcement officers—from carrying firearms in any city building or structure marked with signs indicating firearms are prohibited. The ordinance does not specify which city buildings those might be. Staff would make those decisions, Tim Wellnitz, assistant city attorney, said. A council memo specifically mentions City Hall and the Hedberg Public Library as being put off limits to firearms.


A public hearing on the proposed ordinance already has been held, but people who want to speak can do so by signing up at the beginning of the meeting.


-- Action to fill open positions on the board of review. The board of review, which convenes so people can protest their assessments, has been meeting since Sept. 15. According to a memo, the clerk's office must schedule between 100 to 130 hours of board of review hearings before the end of October so the city can create the tax roll. Residential objections are scheduled for 45 minutes each, and commercial objections take an hour. The board comprises five voting members and three alternates. Two members, Don Allison and Gary Wright, recently resigned, and another member is having problems attending.


City Clerk Jean Wulf has asked two former board members to serve because the city has no time to advertise for other applicants.


Craig Gramke has offered to serve as a voting member of the board, and Jim Tibbetts has offered to serve as an alternate.


-- OK borrowing $11.9 million for capital projects. Of the $11.9 million, about $5.9 is general fund debt. Of this amount, more than half is for projects the council already has committed itself to fund.


The borrowing would pay for such items as street, sewer and other infrastructure construction, maintenance and repair; landfill construction; and building and maintaining public grounds and buildings. The borrowing includes $500,000 for a new fire station, which should be enough money to buy a site, Assistant City Manager Jay Winzenz said.



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