Skateboards yet again

The latest news in the Northfield Skateboard Plaza is that rather than having the Council vote on the Ames Park location, the Park Board has asked to revisit the relative priority of the skateboard plaza in its list of projects and how it would like to allocate the very few park dollars in the near future (see the Northfield News story and/or Locally Grown).

The only question I have now is: why wasn’t the priority of park projects already established? We know there are fewer dollars available now, but the relative importance of projects should have already been determined.  Didn’t we just write a new park plan?

Northfield struggles with prioritizing issues and projects by postponing decision-making or becoming distracted by planning – it’s not new.  Now that money is much tighter, we really need to make tough choices about what’s most important and what we can do without.

The sad part of this situation is that if Northfield had been more rigorous in establishing its park development plan, the young people involved with the Skateboard Coalition could have been given a more realistic forecast of when a skateboard park might be able to be developed and whether it would be a high priority or just a project the city would get to when it had extra time and money (that means never).  Instead, decisions about location were drawn out over several years and when action looked imminent on the Ames Park location only then do we pull back to think about how important this project is in the Big Picture.

I know that money is almost non-existent right now and funding any project is difficult, but it still looks like “prioritizing” is another name for avoiding action and potential controversy.

2 Replies to “Skateboards yet again”

  1. I think you got it exactly right when you said, “avoiding action… and controversy”.
    I went to the PRAB meeting last Tuesday, and it was clear that the Chair is trying to clear out the ‘must do’s’, which seems to be the trails/walks in Memorial park, get some trees planted there (Eagle Scout volunteers) and then say OK, we still have enough $$ to fund the skate plaza … I think this strategy developed because the next level of Council refusal was going to be the financing.
    The mayor has the right to appoint the members of B/Cs, and I would always defend that right, as expressed in the Charter.
    However, the new PRAB appointee, David Hvistendahl, made a pretty big ‘scene’ against the Skateboard park, and the PRAB board was ‘exercised’, to say the least. I ended up seeing this as a very ‘political’ appointment, given the situation, and it looked heavy handed, since the Mayor is also against the Ames site.
    I still would defend the Mayor’s right to appoint as she/he sees fit, even if I did see this one as a ‘slap down’.
    There was a lot of discussion of the PRAB priorities, and the qualifications of timing on them. They had given themselves some latitude, or discretion , in their prioritization, and it seemed thoroughly reasonable as brought forward through their discussion.
    There were no reps from the Skateboard Coalition at the meeting; I think they have given up for now.

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