Skate park fans turned out by the dozens at Tuesday’s Evanston City Council meeting, and aldermen agreed to get rolling on the possible development of such a facility.
After supportive remarks during public comment from skateboard users ranging in age from pre-teens to the 60-ish, aldermen debated whether they should first build a temporary park at a cost of perhaps $30,000 to $60,000, or build a permanent facility that might cost $350,000 to $750,000 — or do both.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she favored a permanent “real skate park” even though the city would have to issue bonds to fund it. And she suggested the permanent park concept could generate private fundraising support.
Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said the skate park idea “is long overdue.” He suggested partnering with the Ridgeville Park District in south Evanston to develop the project.
Supportive comments also came from Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward. Fiske has been receiving complaints from constituents concerned about skateboarders using the recently renovated plaza at Fountain Square downtown to practice their sport.
Much less supportive of the park idea were Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, who said “it’s crazy to be talking about this” given the city’s current financial situation, and Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, who expressed similar doubts about the cost.
Rue Simmons also objected to one site suggested by Parks Director Lawrence Hemingway as temporary skate park location. She said the parking lot at the north end of Twiggs Park is fully used by businesses in the area and shouldn’t have its size reduced by having part of it used for skateboarding.
At the conclusion of the discussion, City Manager Erika Storlie said she’d move forward with holding community meetings with the skateboard community and would discuss possible locations with Ridgeville Park District officials.