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Skateboard park dominates city council discussion

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

Approximately 35 people were at the City Council meeting Monday night, some of who identified themselves and shared their opinions about the location of the skate park. Councilwoman Toni Kunz established the purpose succinctly, saying, “There will be a skate park. The question is where that skate park will go.”
City engineer Brian Cope provided a brief overview of the soil compaction conditions of two location possibilities. Samples were taken from two locations, one on 8th Street location and the other on 3rd Street. The first location, according to Councilman Glenn Clark, the one first considered some 15-plus years ago was at 8th and Cypress; no soil sample was taken from that location.
According to Cope, InTech (the engineering firm that conducted soil compaction studies) said that the site on 8th Street is a viable site on which to build a skateboard park. However, there are deficiencies in the workmanship of the slab and some of the work accomplished so far will need to be redone. The 8th Street site will require between 18 and 24 inches of structural fill.
By comparison, the 3rd Street location would require four feet of structural fill.
Most of the residents who addressed the commissioners during the public comment portion of the meeting expressed one of several complaints or concerns, or asked questions that expressed confusion about the process of events that led to hurtful language and confusion, including but not limited to:
– The location of the skate park included in the master plan; Why would the council under a master plan?
• Toni Kunz stated that none of this was an accident. That the council made a conscious decision to move the skate park outside of the city park, in part so that kids and visitors would not have to pay an entrance fee to use it.
– Complaints about noise
• Councilman Glenn Clark said there was a lot of “anti-metal-ramp-rhetoric out there, and if someone wants to cough up the additional $200,000 that it would cost to build the ramps out of concrete, that would be fine. Clark also expressed the idea that the noise complaint is disingenuous, given the proximity to noisy bars and motorcycle rallies.
– Disruption to a neighborhood; of homeowners being intruded on
– The negative effect on property values
– Concerns that increase traffic in the area, especially with new entrance to the park, may put skate boarders at greater risk; consider widening road
– Insinuations or cautionary warnings that details of council misconduct will be sent to the attorney general
• The council was patiently if not emphatically resolute that there were no walking quorums or misconduct.
• One resident volunteered to be a witness for the city council if it came to that, stating that there were meetings and public hearings on the topics, and that the public didn’t come to the meetings when topics were being discussed and decisions being made.
– Inadequate notice about public hearings and decisions being made regarding the park, complaints about lack of transparency
• Councilwomen Kunz and Gibson rearticulated that the city council followed all of the procedures as required by law, and that they did more than the minimum legal requirements including: public hearings, public notices published in paper, updates through social media, website updates, the posting of minutes and agendas.
– People don’t read newspapers, or use social media
– Why didn’t the city council send a letter informing residents as a courtesy?
– What would it cost for a willing resident to pay the difference in structural fill to have the park placed at 3rd Street instead of 8th?
– Comparison of the intrusion of a skateboard park on a neighborhood with eminent domain
– Thoughts that the skate park looks small
• Councilman Clark replied that professional skate board park designers designed it and that young people who skateboard regularly were also involved in the design process.
Tempers flared occasionally during the tedious and difficult discussion about a subject that some are much more invested in than others. Mayor Schauman consistently and patiently brought the discussion back to the specific topic whenever a speaker digressed — be it a resident or council member. The council listened to everyone who wanted to speak, and even though the details are obviously frustrating and deeply disturbing for some, everyone controlled their emotions. One idea that was reiterated several times, most clearly by Councilwoman Gibson was the council’s interest in placing the park in a location that offers “greater visibility for our children.” The proximity to the new entrance of the city park means children will be near adults, a first aid station, public restrooms, et cetera.
Other matters
The council tabled several items regarding signs (enforcing ordinances and perfecting them) and placed them on the next meeting's agenda. Legal council suggested changes to the sign ordinances, specifically the garage sale ordinance, that will reduce redundancy.
The council agreed to call a special meeting to meet with EDC president about requests for budget amendments to fund advertising expenses and longhorn cattle for Celebrate Bandera.
Councilwoman Gibson plans to host a star party soon and wants to share with council and community what she has learned about being a Dark Sky community.
Councilman Clark reminded and invited people to the RiverFest event this weekend.
Best news of the night
Curtis Shelton, husband of city secretary Jill Shelton, woke up from the coma he has been in since his motorcycle accident a few weeks ago.