From the Feb. 8, 2012 edition/Opinion page
It was fascinating to watch last week’s meeting of the McKinleyville Community Services District and realize that there was one thing that everyone who spoke agreed upon – McKinleyville should have its own skate park. Not a single person spoke out against the idea.
Even MCSD staff members – who proposed the controversial changes in a written agreement with the non-profit McKinleyville Skate Park Organization – have publicly stated that they support the idea of a skate park.
So where’s the disagreement? One might think the conflict is over the Pierson Park location, which MCSD staff said should be removed from the agreement and replaced with a general pledge to place the skate park somewhere in McKinleyville, with the exact location to be determined at a later date.
But upon further questioning, you quickly learn that MCSD staff is not against locating the skate board park at Pierson Park. They say they like the location.
So what’s the problem?
In my opinion it comes down to money and the entire vision of how this project will be built. Fortunately, this can be changed, We could have a skate park this summer. But it will require a change of thinking by both the MCSD and skaters. Try to follow my train of thought:
When the skate park was envisioned many years ago, the MCSD was busy trying to figure out how to build the Hiller Sports Complex. There wasn’t any extra money sitting around for a skate park.
The skaters, if they wanted a park, would have to build it on their own. The MCSD agreed to provide land, Later, the MCSD agreed to make a $25,000 contribution toward the park when it came time for construction.
The skaters, meanwhile, went about designing the park they wanted rather than the park they could afford. They came up with a $650,000 park, with the first phase estimated to cost from $380,000 to $450,000. (The exact amount changes depending on what meeting one attends, hence the different numbers used in different news articles.)
That’s a huge expenditure, even by the standards of the MCSD, which has acquired land and developed parks all over McKinleyville,
So when MCSD staff members sit behind their desks and try to plan for the district’s future, they come up with some logical conclusions:
• At the rate the McKinleyville Skate Park Organization is raising funds, it could be many years, maybe a decade or more, before there is enough money to start Phase 1.
• With a price tag hovering around half a million dollars, and with other projects having a higher priority according to district surveys, the MCSD can’t justify spending that much of its own money on a skate park.
So the skaters want a project with an astronomical costs that they may never be able to raise, and the MCSD is waiting for money that may never come. That puts the skate park in perpetual limbo,
The solution? Figure out how much money we can afford to spend right now, and design a skate park around that amount.
According to McKinleyville Skate Park President Charlie Caldwell, the organization has $32.700 of cash in the bank. It also has commitments from businesses to donate materials and services, bringing the grand total to about $87,000. The MCSD previously agreed to pitch in $25,000. That brings the total amount available to $112,000. So let’s round that up to $150,000. The additional money can come from the McKinleyville Skate Park Organization and the MCSD.
The new design could include some features from the existing design. It could be built with the idea that it’s phase one, and that the Cadillac features wanted by the McKinleyville Skate Park Organization could be added at a later date – when the group finally gets around to raising a half million dollars.
With a scaled down skate park, we could have a safe, fun place for skaters to grind away as early as this summer.