Soldotna skateboarders eager to get park rolling

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2001

The Soldotna City Council may be poised to help its community's youth execute some phat nollie kickflips, mad stalefishgrabs and extreme 50-50 grinds in the near future.

However, many of Soldotna's skateboarders already are doing these and many more tricks -- just not in places that welcome them.

That's where the city comes in. Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael and Public Works Director Steve Bonebrake have been working with the Skyview-Soldotna Skateboarding Club in planning a skateboarding park somewhere in the city.

Bill Holt, a parent of one of the boarders involved in the club, presented the council with a 500-name petition of support for a park and updated the council on the club's activities.

"Our one group focus is to help build a park," Holt said. "We realize that we want to do more than just whine over no place to skateboard, and we feel we're at the point to make a formal request to look into finding a place to locate a park."

He said some of the club's members and he have toured some potential areas for a skateboard park with Carmichael and Bonebrake, and feel it's time to form a committee with the city to identify some sites.

"The sites we looked at all had some pluses and minuses," Holt said. "Aspen Park had some assets, but it's next to an apartment building, and noise is usually the No. 1 complaint."

He also mentioned Soldotna Creek Park, which is out in the open, not near any homes and close to fast food, but crossing five lanes of Sterling Highway traffic was a concern.

Riverview Park off Kobuk Street was Holt's favorite.

"There is enough of a buffer from the neighborhood, it would be easy for the police to patrol it and ambulances would have easy access to it if there's an accident," he said.

Holt said the club would soon like to start raising money to help pay for the park. He said the kids also would be willing to do public service work for the city this summer, such as plant trees or paint fire hydrants, to show their appreciation.

Council member Jim Stogsdill asked Holt what the minimum requirements for a skate park would be. Holt said a 100-foot-square asphalt or cement pad with movable elements, such as ramps, steps, half-pipes and other apparatus to perform tricks on.

He said the club is not interested in a park where the elements are permanently set in cement. He estimated the cost to be less than $30,000 plus the price of the pad.

Holt said they appreciated all the help the city and Bonebrake have given the club, but they would rather not name the new facility the Soldotna Bone-Break Skate Park.

In other council news from Wednesday night's meeting:

n Mayor David Carey cast his first tie-breaking vote when the council deadlocked three-three on allowing hot dog vendors use of the public restrooms at the Visitor Information Center.

The request came from hot dog vendors Alex and Annette Villa, who had a tentative deal with the owner of the property the visitors center's parking lot is on to set up a hot dog stand, but they needed a restroom with hot running water to meet Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation requirements.

Since the city owns the visitors center, the Villas sought the council's permission and offered to help with the supplies and upkeep of the restrooms.

Boedeker said the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce did not express any concerns to him as long as the restrooms were kept clean.

But council member Steve Horn said approving the Villas' request may present a precedent.

"Questions linger in my mind about the future impacts of this decision," he said.

Council member Mike Tarr agreed, saying there were no other publicly-funded facilities used to support commercial ventures.

Stogsdill suggested a 30-day agreement to see if it worked out having the Villas there. He also expressed concern about the private land owner removing city access to the parking lot. As it stands, the city only has three parking places on its own land at the center.

In the end, council members Kurt Olson, Jane Stein and Stogsdill voted to allow the Villas to use the public restrooms, while Tarr, Horn and Joyce Cox voted against them. Carey voted no.

n The council introduced its fiscal year 2002 budget. It will be up for a public hearing at the council's next regular meeting May 23, and a public budget work session will be held Monday at 4:30 p.m. at city hall.

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