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Letter To The Editor: Skate Park in Skokie

Skokie Park District president Mike Reid writes on how the proposed skate park can benefit the community while also addressing concerns.

Over the last several weeks, there has been a subject that This is in reference to the skate board park to be built on the northeast portion of the Lincoln Junior High School property. 

First, I want to provide some background information.  An intergovernmental agreement between the Village, Skokie School District 69, and the Skokie Park District, will have the park district oversee and supervise construction of the project and, pay the school district a nominal rent fee.  Funding for the majority of the project will come from the village’s downtown TIF fund (How TIF funding works - via village website).

However, the park district will need to contribute additional funding.  This is to assure that participants will have a safe and high quality facility, a hallmark tradition of the  

One of the discussion points has centered on why does Skokie even need a skateboard park?  The truth is, this has been an in-demand project in the community for many years, with groups consisting of both adults and young adults, from different parts of Skokie, approaching the park district.  This project, while being adjacent to the downtown district, will benefit the entire community, not just a few in District 69, much the same as any other facility in the Skokie Park District.  Being adjacent to downtown also has the benefit of easy access to patrons, and has the potential to benefit the many merchants in the area by bringing more people, adults included, to the downtown area.  

Safety has been a stated concern regarding this project, both from an injury and community standpoint.  As has been stated by many, if your community does not have a skate park, the community can become the skate park.  Very often I have seen young adults skating in a number of plaza areas around the community, particularly downtown, none of which are intended for this purpose.  By providing a skateboard park, it will give residents of all ages a proper place to practice their sport, and get exercise.  No, this facility will not be supervised, but there will be appropriate signage posted regarding safety guidelines.  The liability actually increases when there is on-site supervision.  And for those with community safety concerns, yes this will be a public park, just like all the other park district facilities.  Please do not assume that the participants who would potentially use this park are most likely going to cause trouble. 

This is in the planning stage at this point. Physical requirements for the facility are currently being examined, reviewed and discussed.  For those residents who are concerned that their opinion has not been heard, be assured there will be a public hearing regarding this project, as this is standard procedure for the park district.  In addition, this will require the approval of the board members of all the entities.  Once completed, we look forward to another successful facility for the community to enjoy for generations.

Mike Reid

President, Skokie Park District Board of Commissioners  

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Scott Holtz August 13, 2012 at 11:34 PM
What a gift to the community. Lincoln has all that vacant ground and we need someplace for the skaters. Perfect fit. Maybe this will finally be what we need to get us the ice cream shop everyone wants in Downtown Skokie. I am sure the comic book store and Subway will benefit quickly and others will soon follow. My bet is because this is a Park District project the facility will be one of the best and a true asset to the community. So many surrounding communities offer this type of park so why not Skokie and why not in Downtown Skokie?
Gordon August 14, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Not with TIF funds. Users don't read "signs". Parking will not be near stores that think they will benefit. Insurance and increased injuries will draw needed funds away. You have money? Use it for beneficial things. Not for police,too
Earl Weiss August 14, 2012 at 11:42 AM
"Randy Miles Someone once asked Earl - "if Skokie is so bad" according to most things you write about "then why do you still live here?" I too, wonder the answer to this question. It is very easy to point out what is wrong, but much more dificult to offer solutions." As I publicly stated at the Oakton Street Diet meeting, I like Skokie, (The Village services etc.) I really do. But Skokie has done some bonehead things that have cost the village dearly. These include a $20 Million CTA Station, and the Dempster Desert. The criticisms I make toward some moves by some elected officials are not limited to Skokie. The Skate park is not a bad idea. The use of TIF funds is. This misuse of TIF funds and how bad TIFs are is not limited to Skokie. The Reader has had many articles on how Chicago has abuses TIFs and their failings. However this paticular item on Patch is about Skokie, so I chose to tailer my comments accordingly. Part of the solution for helping business is to not have a hostile tax climate. Not to overspend. Unfortuneately Skokie's role in the taxing is only one of many. The school districts are largely to blame.
Earl Weiss August 14, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Well Said h m.
Dedicated Parent August 16, 2012 at 03:37 PM
One of the issues about this skate park is that the parents who have children attending Lincoln Jr. High were not provided with an opportunity to voice their concerns PRIOR to the planning process moving forward. This project should have been discussed with all stakeholders including parents well before now when it appears that it's already a done deal. As for the skate park generating new business for downtown Skokie, I hope that is the case but not overly optimistic that it will be. Skater boarders do not typically get dropped off by their parents but rather they skate to the park! It should not take a skate park to bring new business to downtown Skokie. That's the job of the Economic Development staff at the Village who needs to come up with better ideas to reach out to business owners - with or without a skate park in close proximity. Others communities seem to be able to revitalize their downtowns so maybe it's time for our Village leaders to sit down with other successful community leaders to exchange ideas.

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