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Nelson skatepark plan gets nod from council

The area of Nelson
The area of Nelson's Art Gibbon Park where the outdoor skatepark is now slated.
— image credit: Megan Cole photo

New plans to build an outdoor skatepark in Rosemont have the support of Nelson Council.

On Monday, councillors received a verbal staff report on the benefits of having the skatepark in Art Gibbon Park, next to the bike park. Then, council passed a motion to support, in principle, the development of the skatepark in that location and to gather public feedback at an open house in the New Year.

"As we all know, there are very limited alternative options," city manager Kevin Cormack told council during the staff report.  "We have looked at other locations for 10-plus years."

The Kootenay Lake Outdoor Skate Park Society had been pushing to have the skatepark built in front of the Nelson and District Community Complex, but that was before they learned last fall that they'd need $200,000 more than anticipated for site preparation costs alone.

"At first when we heard about the need for a change in site, we were fairly devastated," society spokesperson Chad Hansen said. "But what it comes down to is we can build a bigger, much more elaborate skatepark for the exact same dollars [in the new location]."

Hansen said the end users of the skatepark care more about having a quality park than having it right downtown.

Nelson and District Youth Centre manager Christine Schmidt also pointed out that many young families already live in Rosemont.

"For many youth, this location is actually closer to where they live," she said.

Nelson police chief Wayne Holland said it would have been easier to monitor a downtown skatepark, but he doesn't anticipate a problem with doing more patrols in Rosemont when the park is built.

"Finding a place that works for end users is what it's all about — if council and the end users are happy, we're happy," Holland said.

Cormack said the park will be wired for closed-circuit television cameras, which could be installed for security monitoring down the road if needed. But Holland said he isn't advocating for that.

Instead, police and city staff agree they would rather see an ambassador program developed, which would involve older youth mentoring the younger users and reporting problems to the police.

Cormack noted the lack of parking and emergency vehicle access at Art Gibbon Park would have to be addressed if the skatepark goes there, and the cost of adding those features may fall to the City.

"We don't expect these park improvements to come at zero cost to the City," Cormack said.

The skatepark society already has the money in place to build a $600,000 skatepark, thanks to a $400,000 community recreation grant from the province (which expires in March 2014), $10,000 from Columbia Basin Trust’s community initiative program, and steadfast fundraising by the society.

New Line Skateparks who designed original plan for Community Complex location has agreed to do a free redesign for the Rosemont location.

"This is probably the most in line we will ever have the ducks to have a skatepark built," Hansen said. "The feeling of KLOPS members is let's get 'er done."

An open house for community members to see the skatepark design for the new location and provide feedback, will likely be held sometime in January at Rosemont elementary school.

If there are no further hiccups, the six month construction period could get underway after the spring snowmelt, and the park could be complete by the summer.

"This is something every one of us on council has said during election times that we'd support once the community group could bring us a feasible plan," Mayor John Dooley pointed out. "We'd all really like to see this happen, for the benefit of the young people in our community."

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