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Minutes of the Public Hearing of October 3, 2012 - Skate Park Project

Present:                    

President Mike Reid

Commissioner Susan Aberman                                             

                                   

Others Present:                  

Director/Secretary John Ohrlund

Superintendent of Recreation and Facilities /Michelle Tuft

Superintendent of Parks/Michael Rea

Dr. Quintin Shepherd/School District 69

Lisa Kaihari/School District 69

Terri Lefler/President School District 69

Maggie Nessem/Vice President School District 69

Dr. Barbara Poddig/School District 69

Zachary Williams/School District 69                                              

 

Margaret Poet

4959 Elm Street

Skokie

Carolyn Anthony

5215 Oakton Street

Skokie

Judy Le Conte

5126 Elm Street

Skokie

Michael Lande

8027 Kilbourn

Skokie

Eric Sorenson

186 Washington

Evanston

Anthony Ramirez

3900 W. Chase

Lincolnwood

Taylor Errin

Skokienet

Chicago

Tristan Jenista

 

Wilmette

Julianne Arvizu

5238 George St

Skokie

John O'Malley

5244 Mulford

Skokie

Kristin Pavkon

8248 Kolmar

Skokie

Paul Luke

9130 Keating

Skokie

Ibrahim K

4853 Louise St

Skokie

Laura Ferrigno

4406 Main St

Skokie

Ilonka Uirich

3858 W Harvard

Skokie

Mirtz Endicoti

223 Flora

Glenview

Nicholas Keay

8207 Keeler

Skokie

Lisa Lipin

4535 Davis St

Skokie

Pam Cofre

8126 Kilbourn

Skokie

Iven Cofre

8126 Kilbourn

Skokie

Pam DeFiglio

Patch.com

 

Susan Carlton

Skokie Library

Skokie

Sharon Smith

   

Oralia Acosta

8132 Kolmar

Skokie

Felicia Holtz

5207 Cleveland

Skokie

Howard Meyer

Skokie Chamber

Skokie

Marie Cinquemani

5200 Mulford

Skokie

Terry Wallls

8647 Harms

 

Laurie Komaish

7807 Park Ave

 

Dimitar Toshkoc

6600 Wood River Dr.

 

Tanya Schuler

7119 S. Octavia

Bridgeview

Laura Williams

5110 Lee St

Skokie

Michael Isaacs

Skokie Review

Skokie Review

Britt  Czupryna

5212 Brown

 

Ross Mathee

7907 Kildare

Skokie

Al Curtis

Lou Lang’s Office

Skokie

Laurie White

 

Chicago

Bill Abelson

7801 Lotus

Morton Grove

Kim Gottschall

6357 N. Merrimac

Chicago

Roxann Salgado

5215 Galitz

Skokie

Jackie Cyriac

4453 Keeney

Skokie

Karen Toy

8155 Laramie

 

John Kardaras

4741 N. Knox

 

Mia Simon

4715 W. Dempster

Skokie

Patty O'Malley

5244 Mulford

Skokie

Kathy Zipperer

8210 Laramie

Skokie

B  Cox

 

Evanston

Lydia Murillo

8541 Lotus Ave

 

Joe Castro

4449 Elm

Skokie

Johnny Moore

5416 Monroe St

Skokie

Lynda Meyer

790 Lorel

Skokie

Senada Dibra

8105 Parkside

Morton Grove

David Putrus

5014 Elm

Skokie

Chuck Waters

5406 Oakton

 

Deputy Chief Michael Pechter

Skokie Police

Skokie

Wes Kaihara

5238 W. Mulford

Skokie

Jamie Aarvizu

5238 George St

Skokie

Eric M. Poders

7940 Foster St

Morton Grove

Jason Monk

8035 Knox

Skokie

Janette Enwia

 

Skokie

Renee

5131 Elm Street

Skokie

 

 

President Reid called the meeting to order at 7:00p.m. He welcomed the citizens and introduced the Park Board Commissioners, Skokie Park District staff, and School District 69 Board Members. Superintendent Tuft began the skate park presentation with a history of skateboarding. Skateboarding began in the 50’s and has become a mainstream sport for youth ages 6 – 17 years of age. 

In 2008 Superintendent Tuft and then Parks Superintendent Ohrlund toured fourteen various sites for consideration for a skate park location.  No sites were found to be acceptable. The Park District considered developing the Skokie Sports Park East site, however, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) contacted the Park District about their intent to expand their treatment plant and the consideration for the skate park project at Sports Park were halted.

This year the Village of Skokie has allocated TIF funds to be used for the development of a skate park in downtown Skokie.  District 69 has offered to lease property for the development of a skate park. 

In May of 2012, Superintendent Tuft, staff and thirteen Lincoln Junior High School students toured three area skate parks in Deerfield, Highland Park and Northbrook. 

On September 5, 2012 a Public Meeting was held at the Weber Leisure Center to discuss the design for a skate park.  At the meeting interest was shown for developing a skate park in Skokie. Presently skaters are forced to use streets, parking lots and public sidewalks due to the lack of a skate park. Superintendent Tuft stated that skate boarding is safe. It is a healthy exercise for kids.

Superintendent Tuft discussed some of the myths about litigation, crime and noise created by skate parks. Superintendent Tuft reported on safety statistics for organized team sports and skateboarding has one of the lowest injury ratios when compared to sports like football, baseball, soccer and volleyball.

The proposed design of the skate park would be a street plaza design with some bowls mixed in.  A concrete park will be the best for noise abatement. Proposed hours of operation for the skate park would be 8:00 a.m. to dusk, open year round depending on the weather, fenced and with security lighting.  No restroom facilities are proposed at this time. Rules would be posted. No bikes will be allowed.

Superintendent Tuft summed up the presentation. She stated that the $250,000 in TIF funds is only available for use within the TIF district. An intergovernmental agreement has been drafted between the Skokie Park District and School District 69.  The Park District is using a skate park design firm.  School District 69 Board Members will vote at their October 16th board meeting whether to approve the skate park. If approved, the Skokie Park District will request approval of the intergovernmental agreement at its Park Board Meeting on October 30th

Superintendent Tuft opened the meeting for citizen comments.

Mark Collins said that he has lived in Skokie for 17 years. He is in support of the skate park at the Lincoln Junior High School location. His children do not skate, but he feels the skate park is needed. A skate park is a safe environment for kids to have fun. He likes that the governmental agencies all work together.

Carolyn Anthony, Director of the Skokie Public Library, stated that she is a resident of Skokie and is in favor of the skate park.  Her experiences with kids skateboarding in the Library parking lot and Village Green were stated.  For years, kids have been skating in the parking lot and safety has been a concern. She has personally asked the kids not to skate in the area.  She knows that many of these kids attend Lincoln Junior High School and are looking for a place to skate.

Howard Meyer, Executive Director of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce expressed support of the 650 member businesses for the skate park.  Mr. Meyer stated that it was a creative use of the TIF funds and cooperative efforts of the Skokie Park District, School District 69, Village of Skokie and the Independent Merchants of Downtown Skokie. A skate park would give the kids a constructive way to use their free time.

Patty O’Malley voiced her concerns about the skate park being constructed on School District property.  She stated that any improvements should enhance the educational experience of the students.  She asked the school board to make decisions based on that.

Ms. O’Malley asked why some of the parks were not selected as a location for the skate park. Superintendent Tuft responded that most of the parks are small and some parks would have neighbor issues and were not suitable locations for the skate park.

Ms. O’Malley inquired if a survey was sent out to residents in 2008 for their opinions on a skate park.  Superintendent responded no.  Ms. O’Malley said that she is in favor of a skate park but not one being built on school property just because the funds and land are available.

Roberta Dubrow expressed concerns that there are already too many kids congregating in one area and a skate park would bring more kids.  She was concerned about some “problematic” parks in Skokie and said 4 out of 5 of these parks are in District 69.  Lincoln Junior High School is the only school in Skokie with a full time police officer. She suggested building a running track on the property.  She would like something to be built that would benefit more kids.

Superintendent Tuft responded that statistics indicate that giving kids constructive activities help with reducing crime in the community. 

Jason Monk stated that he has been a skater since he was six years old.  He understands the concerns, but people cannot be afraid.  He said that “New Trier High School has a skateboarding curriculum in their gym class and it is a pretty good school.” We could have a great skate park and people would enjoy it. 

A resident inquired if the School Board did not approve the agreement could the Park District build the skate park at another location.  Superintendent Tuft responded that the TIF funds are only available for downtown Skokie.  The Park District does not have the funds allocated for this project in their budget.

Superintendent Tuft stated that the three skate parks that were visited were next to a Police Station in Deerfield, built in a large park in Highland Park near residential area and an industrial area in Northbrook.  The Park District does not have a location it its parks suitable for the skate park. Skokie Sports Park East was considered, but will require environmental remediation.

Skokie Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Pechter supports the skate park. Deputy Chief Pechter stated that the crime rate has been down the last four years. This year the parks had an exceptionally low crime rate. He disputed the comment that there are problematic parks in District 69. He stated developing a skate park is a good investment in the community.  He has resided in Skokie since 1977.  His two children skate and would use the skate park. He said that “the skate park is a creative use of unused land.” He stated that a skate park would create socialization and constructive activities. He asked that everyone work together with the Skokie Police and their neighbors.  His one concern was a lack of restroom facilities. 

Patty O’Malley commented that “School District property is not the right place to build the skate park. Put it in the right place.”

Laura Williams commented that she believed that the Park District did their due diligence, the Skokie Police have no issues with the skate park being built and the community should separate their emotions and be logical and reasonable in supporting the skate park.  The skate park at Lincoln Junior High School reaches out to the middle school students and sends a positive message to the kids.

Eric Sorenson applauds the Skokie Park District for the skate park project. He is a skateboarder and drives to other areas for his children to skateboard. He said skateboarders bring money to the community and Skokie could benefit with a skate park. He was glad to hear the support of the Skokie Police and Skokie Chamber of Commerce.

John O’Malley said to focus on education and not build the skate park on School District property.

Britt Czupryna teaches in Skokie and lives near the Skokie Library. She sees the skateboarding at the Village Green and Library and is concerned for the safety of the kids.  Will the skate park distraction compromise testing days in school with the hours of operation of the skate park?  If you are going to use TIF money, build a facility that will benefit more of our population. She said the School Board took away a gifted program because it only benefited a small percentage of the population.  What percentage of our population will the skate park reach? How will it improve their education?  She requested a survey for feedback on the issue of the skate park. The audience here is not representative of the audience in District 69.

Superintendent Tuft clarified that the TIF funds have been approved for the purpose of the skate park project.

Marie Cinquemani is a teacher for over 20 years.  She said putting a skateboard park on school property screams distraction.  She feels that middle schoolers are by definition distracted. As a teacher, she does not see how it works with the skate park being open at 8am. Are we going to close blinds and brick up windows? How are we going to make it so it’s not a distraction to the students?

Superintendent Tuft responded that hours of operation could be changed if needed. Staff would be willing to take a look if needed.  It will be a learning process.

Terry Walls stated that she did not think school property should be used for the skate park. She sees a need for the skate park, but not at Lincoln Junior High School.  She hopes the School Board will listen to the parents.

Nicholas Keay spoke regarding the resident’s concerns about the location of the skate park. He stated that there is a skate park in Glencoe on school property. It is not used during the day. The park is used after school, after work and on weekends.

Oralia Acosta inquired what percentage of children will use the skate park. It is a big investment for the School District. She has concerns that the train station may bring in kids that don’t want to be in school and want to use the skate park during school hours.

Felicia Holtz stated the fact that the all these agencies are working together is amazing. It makes her proud to be here.  From the picture of the location of the skate park it looks like it is far enough away from the school not to be a distraction.  It will not be easy to see. It is a lot safer than to be on the sidewalks, better if we give the kids things to do.

Linda Meyer is in favor of a skate park in Skokie. Her concerns were that the School District is in poor financial condition. We have lost a librarian and art teacher. There are no after school activities. This year families had to pay for bus service.  How much will the School District receive for leasing the property to the Park District? Superintendent Tuft responded that the cost of the lease is $1.00 per year.  Ms. Meyer would like to see a running track built on the property, a community garden or greenhouse.

Superintendent Tuft responded that there is no option to take this money to use on another project because the Village has allocated the funds for the skate park.

If the TIF funds are not used for this project they would go back to the Village to be reallocated.

Julianne Arvizu works for the Park District and would like to commend the partnership between the Village of Skokie, Park District and School District 69. She made a plea for the Village of Skokie to give District 69 something for education.

Patty O’Malley said District 69 is a unique School District. She said 75% of the students in District 69 live in Skokie and 25% live in Morton Grove.  She would like the Morton Grove residents to receive the same rates as Skokie residents from the Park District. Superintendent Tuft responded that exceptions are made for Morton Grove residents for the SPACE program.

Ms. O’Malley stated that Mark Schneiderman, former Park District Director, wrote the request to the Village of Skokie for the TIF funds.  She said Mark said regarding a skate park in 2008 “They can become a cause of disturbance for people who live close by; typically they are not built in residential neighborhoods.”

Eric Poders sees the skate park as a stimulus to Skokie.  He said “Skokie is looking forward.”  He has done a tremendous amount of research on a skate park project. The kids want this skate park and will use it.  He referred to a community in Venice California and asked residents to look at how successful it has become.

Chuck Waters felt that 85% males will benefit from the building of a skate park. What about the females?

Kim Gottschall is a new skateboarder. She feels skateboarding brings parents and kids together. She bought her son a skateboard and taught him to skate with the help from older skateboarders. It is an amazing community of parents and kids. She said the skateboarders police their own parks and take very good care of them because they matter to them. A skate park would do a lot for this community.

With no more citizens commenting, President Reid thanked everyone for their comments and questions and for attending the public hearing. He said there were some good opinions, concerns and feedback expressed and now the decision is up to District 69 School Board.  If a second public hearing is needed it will be scheduled. Nothing has been decided yet.

Terri Lefler, President of the School Board, thanked everyone for attending the meeting. She said the Board Members took notes and listened carefully to their concerns and comments.  She encouraged everyone to attend the October Board Meeting on October 16th as the Board will be discussing the skate park and voting on it that evening.

The meeting ended at 8:35p.m.

 

 

 

________________________________                 _______________________________

Michael Reid                                                                 John V. Ohrlund

President                                                                       Secretary