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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.

Lorel Park October 22, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Nothing like beating a dead horse. Congrats on once agin presenting last weeks news today.
Xandra October 22, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Wow that parent's comment is totally ignorant. I hope it was regarding just the location and not about having a Skokie skate park in general. I don't understand why other suburbs in the area have skate parks and Skokie doesn't.
David Zornig October 22, 2012 at 03:41 PM
@Lorel Park, I'm not sure if your 1st Reply is directed at me or Patch. But here is the link where it states the ban on Halloween & the voting down of the skate park happened at the same meeting. The very last sentence in the article confirms it: http://skokie.patch.com/articles/halloween-parties-will-not-happen-in-at-district-69 If the TIF money can't or in this case was questionable to be used on a skate park simply because it was Downtown, then I would expect the Village to seek other options on how to fund something of that nature. A start would be acquiring the land I suggested in my 1st comment. Since it has gone unused for decades after it's radio station days. One would think it's owners would gladly part with it whoever they are. It is also far enough away from any residential area that could claim an impact from a proposed skate park. Plus it's just a few blocks from McCracken School. So kids would be a captive audience. A skate park near the Shred Shop would also liven up a rather desolate stretch of Oakton. Which could still help to serve Downtown. If promoted properly. An FYI to the Village: A Yogli Mogli opened a block from a school at Oakton & Prospect Street. And is absolutely mobbed on a daily basis. Push for one of these near the Shred Shop too, and your skate park will be hugely successful.
david October 22, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I second the opinion to have the skate park by the Shred Shop. It's my understanding that they will undertake an EPA cleanup of the old Nicor Gas fields adjacent to Oakton and Lawndale. This would be adjacent to the Mini Golf and Driving Range turning this stretch of Oakton into a great destination for families. Also proposed on the cleanup site was 4 baseball diamonds and more green space. Why not include the proposed skate park there? Is this all about the TIF money? I'd hate to see the decision made based upon easy cash than have a plan for a realistic opportunity for the community pushed aside.
David Zornig October 22, 2012 at 11:02 PM
After being contacted by a friend, I stand corrected that the School Board did not vote 6-1 to ban Halloween as I stated in my 1st reply. Lorel Park was also correct. The article I referenced and posted, indicates that the Board did nothing to reverse the decision. Which in my opinion reaches the same end. The relevance to the skate park in my mind, was that the Board couldn't vote against one thing that costs nothing but time, and also vote for a skate park that would require funds. But had no bearing on school activities.


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