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At Portlandís first Youth Advisory Council meeting of the new season, held September 14 at City Hall, new-skate-park gurus Bob Smyth and Eli Cayer were on hand along with city Parks & Rec and Planning officials to present the Youth Council with an update on skate-park happenings (young people skateboard, donchya know). Hereís the drill: The current Marginal Way park will be spent in 17 months (and counting), the two sites for a new park currently under serious consideration have serious problems, and that 17 months isnít even as long as it seems.
P&Rís Denise Clavette reported that city officials will be meeting with Maine Department of Transportation officials in Augusta in the near future to discuss site #1 on everyoneís priority list, Harbor View Park. Basically, MDOT has control of the area underneath the Casco Bay Bridge, and if they donít give permission to use that area, a skate park at Harbor View will be difficult (at best).
Secondly, Clavette reported that a meeting with neighbors of site #2, Dougherty Park, didnít exactly go swimmingly.
"Neighbors really donít want this to happen here," Clavette reported. Also, "It was very poorly received." Oh, and the city has kind of already promised to build a new Little League ballpark there instead. Clavette said that neighbors were unhappy with how the park has been kept up lately, that thereís a growing homeless population in the area, and that itís not as safe as it used to be. Maybe if those concerns were addressed, Clavette suggested, they might be willing to come around to a skate park, especially if they were better educated about the charming young kids who typically skate, not the graffiti-prone stereotypes you might have seen in Gleaming the Cube (actually a fine film, where the skaters, like, totally save the day).
Time is running out. Clavette noted that, even though sheís requested $50,000 in funds for park start up from the cityís capital investment program, they still have to find a spot, acquire the land, design the park, get the design approved, have public hearings, wait for City Council to vote on the site plan, etc. (whew!). "Basically we have nine months," Clavette said, to come to a decision on where to put the park.
To that end, the Youth Advisory Council will soon be organizing discussion sessions at area schools, and plans for a city-wide skate-park forum are in the works.
Issue Date: September 23 - 29, 2005
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