Skate Park Halted By District 69 Board
Board cites concern over location and safety in rejecting proposal; park district mulling options
The proposal for a skate park on District 69 property hit the skids after the Skokie-Morton Grove school board rejected the idea, leaving the concept for such a park in doubt.
The skate park would have been a combined effort of the Village of Skokie, the Skokie Park District and District 69, but the ultimate decision was in the hands of the school board since the complex would have been constructed at the northeast portion of Lincoln Junior High. But in a meeting last week, the District 69 board voted 6-1 against having the skate park on its property.
What appeared to concern school members, as well as many parents, was not the idea of the skate park, but its location.
“Skokie would be a fabulous spot for skateboarders,” noted board member Lisa Kaihara who then went on to add there were no bathrooms, water fountains or trash cans at the location. “I just don’t think this is a good site for it.”
There also were concerns voiced about safety.
“An unsupervised location is an open invitation to bad elements of the community,” said board member Shajan Jose.
The lone dissenting voice on the school board was Zachary Williams who believed the park would enrich the educational experience for students. “Here we have an example of the entire community coming together to make the skate park happen for kids in Skokie,” he said. “I believe communities work best when different groups work together.”
In June the Village of Skokie approved $250,000 in funds from the downtown TIF to fund the park that would have been constructed under the supervision of the Park District. It appeared at that time that it was just a matter of time before the project would move forward.
Yet over the next few months, opposition grew, specifically at a meeting with parents in October. Many opponents continued to voice their concerns at last week’s meeting.
“I do not believe this neighborhood can possibly support or handle the daily influx of teenagers and weekend hipster Dads and Moms with their little skaters and the potentially massive amount of adolescent kids – mostly boys and the girls that will sit around and watch the cool kids skate,” said parent Michelle Novak.
Whether the idea will be reconsidered or dropped is unclear. Park District President Mike Reid, who has been a staunch advocate for the park’s construction, said it was possible the matter will be discussed at their next meeting on Oct. 30.
“We were disappointed with the vote as we were looking forward to providing the community with another recreational facility,” Reid said.
If the District looks for another location, they will be forced to go before the village once again for funding because the money was specifically approved for the Lincoln School property. However, Reid emphasized it also was possible that they could select another location that does not need other governmental bodies to sign off on it, but in that case the Park District would have to come up with funding on its own.