Cityre-opens skate park, forms advisory committee

Published on Thu, Apr 26, 2007 by ara Nelson

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City re-opens skate park, forms advisory committee

By Tara Nelson

As the city of Blaine re-opened its skate park Friday, Maria Sneve, a Blaine resident and owner of Early Wonders daycare, was out picking up trash with her little ones.

Sneve, whose son Blake, 11, uses the skate park almost daily, said she felt devastated when she found out the park had been closed because of problems with garbage and minor vandalism.

Her son had recently received a new skateboard deck and shoes for his birthday on April 14, but the park had been closed before he got to use them and she wanted to make sure those problems wouldn’t cause city officials to close the park again.

“We want the skate park open,” she said. “The kids love it and we want to support them in what they do.”

Just to be sure, Sneve said she and other volunteers also bought several cans of spray paint to cover graffiti, as well as a 25-gallon bucket of coated ceramic deck screws to tighten deck surfaces.

“There are still a lot of maintenance issues,” she said. “The water fountain doesn’t work, there is no restroom and a lot of boards are coming up around the edges and some of the screws are loose. That could cause a serious crash.”

But Sneve isn’t the only one who is making an effort.
In a special meeting last Thursday, youth and parents from the Blaine and Birch Bay area packed the council chambers to meet with city staff and discuss ways to improve the park and prevent future problems.

Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said the turnout was a good representation of adults to skaters, as well as parks board members and city staff who were able to come to a consensus about what efforts need to be made to keep the park open.

“We had an excellent discussion,” he said. “There was a general consensus that the skate park is a good thing to the community and that we should work very hard to keep it open.”

Several youth also expressed their willingness to do what it takes keep the park open.

“It gives me something to do every day,” said Blaine resident Adrian Villanueva, 14. Another youth added that keeping the skate park open gives individuals a place to skateboard rather than the Cost Cutter parking lot.

Tomsic said while no real resolutions were identified, he was encouraged by the turnout and leadership demonstrated by local youth.

“We wanted them to get the message that if they didn’t take the responsibility then the skate park would close,” he said. “I think the young people were receptive to that.”

Blaine police officer and park founder Jon Landis also spoke at the meeting. While he said the general mischief surrounding the park wasn’t a huge surprise, he was saddened by the park’s closure.

“It was something I loved and I didn’t know what to do to save it,” he said in an emotional speech.

Landis added that he had identified a suspect in the a recent incident of vandalism involving a rock thrown through the window of a parked vehicle that prompted city officials to close the park on April 18, and that the suspect was not believed to be a user of the park.

In the meantime, the city has formed a community liaison group with three Blaine youth to help prevent problems in the future.

“I feel like we have a group of young people that we can talk to and they can talk to us and the next time we are on the path of closing the skate park, I can call them and I think they’ll work with us,” Tomsic said. “I think everyone left feeling there was some encouragement that we would continue to have a good skate park and, in the future, maybe an even better one.”

Tony Stathoulis, 14, who was nominated along with Blaine youth Bill Lewis and Nick Grant to serve on the group said he was encouraged by the meeting and the possibility to show leadership.

“I’m happy because it means people here will now listen to me when I tell them to pick up their trash,” he said.

Blaine community development director Terry Galvin said the city will schedule another meeting next month to evaluate the skate park’s progress. In the meantime, he said the city has already received a $1,000 contribution from local dentist Pat Rooney, owner of Blaine Harbor Dental, to be used for general park improvements.
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