Skokie Plans Park for Skateboarders
A skate park is planned to be built near Lincoln Jr. High in Skokie. “Skating is an incredibly popular activity that not only youth but young adults engage in," said Skokie Park District president Mark Schneiderman.
It may be a stretch to say the X Games are coming to Skokie, but a skate park is definitely on the way.
In a three governmental agency partnership, the village is footing the $250,000 bill for a new skate park to be constructed on the northeast portion of the Lincoln Jr. High property. The Skokie Park District will oversee and supervise construction of the facility and will be responsible for any maintenance issues. For legal purposes, the Park District will likely pay a nominal rent to the District 69 as part of an intergovernmental agreement, according to officials. The announcement was made at a village board meeting on Monday.
“Skating is an incredibly popular activity that not only youth but young adults engage in,” said Park District Executive Director Mark Schneiderman. “Typically if you don’t have a skate park in your community, than your community becomes the skate park. In other words the skaters will be skating downtown, they will be skating in public areas and skating wherever they can and frequently that causes problems.”
Instead of coming up with a design and just handing it to the students, the teenagers were brought into the process by District 69 superintendent Quintin Shepherd and the Park District. The students were taken on a tour of other community skate parks and let it be known what was liked and what wasn’t liked. Other students and skaters will eventually be consulted and there will be a public hearing scheduled all with the hope of getting as much input as possible on the final design, according to officials.
There is hope for a late summer or early fall construction.
“We feel that a skate park is highly desirable in the community,” Schneiderman added.
Still there were questions raised about the possibility of injuries and liability since the park will not be supervised. Signs will be posted urging the skateboarders to use helmets, but there will not be anyone on hand to enforce the policy.
“If we go ahead and supervise the park, then the liability shoots through the roof,” Schneiderman said. “Then we have a duty to make sure the kids are using the equipment specifically as per the design. That is the primary reason it is unsupervised.”
While the motion was passed unanimously by the village board, Patty O’ Malley, who has three boys at District 69 and was a former PTA President, had misgiving on several issues, even if she is not opposed to the skate park per se.
O’Malley was concerned about the lack of notice to parents about the construction as well as the use of the land in addition to the priorities of the District 69 right now. “What is the need to putting this on school property?” she said, “Of all the things we need, do we really a skateboard park?”
The village board also approved a $250,000 matching grant from the downtown TIF fund for a job-training program in the area of nanotechnology at the urging of Mayor George Van Dusen. That grant mirrors the amount provided by the Chicago Community Trust for the program and Van Dusen is hopeful that federal funds might also be on the way.
According to Village of Skokie Economic Development Coordinator Tom Thompson, approximately $8 million is left in the TIF fund which is set to expire at the end of 2013. Most of that money he says will be used for a scheduled facelift of Oakton Street.