By David F. Rooney
The divisive skateboard park issue was — ideally — resolved during Tuesday’s regular Council meeting when Mayor David Raven used his vote to break a deadlock over whether to proceed with the project at Kovach Park or postpone it.
The vote means the Columbia Valley Skateboard Association can now proceed with its plans to build a 20,000-square-foot facility at the park bordered by Edward Avenue and the Illecillewaet Greenbelt. It will raise the money to build the skateboard park (to be located on the aging concrete aprons of the old park) itself.
This turn of events left neighbourhood resident Josie Woodman feeling a little deflated.
“Well,” she said after the vote, “he (Mayor Raven) had to break the tie.
“We don’t have to like it but we do have to accept it “
She and many other residents who live near the park in Southside had opposed the skateboard park because they do not believe it fits their neighbourhood which is home to many retirees and older residents.
However, she said later she is willing to offer the CVSA an olive branch.
While the exact nature of that olive branch remains to be seen Josie’s comments hold out the hope of reconciliation and possibly cooperation.
“Alice (Weber) and I spoke to Karl Jost and I asked him if his group would consider using 16,000 square feet instead of the approved 20,000 as a ‘nod’ or as a concession to the neighbours,” Josie said. I told him that that would go a long way to us getting along better than we have thus far.”
Alice and her partner, Daryl Ross, support the idea of a new skateboard park for Revelstoke, but opposed its location. They thought Centennial Park or Woodenhead Park would be better locations, particularly if the CVSA is serious about promoting it as a small portion of the community’s tourism strategy. Both of those locations are more visible and easily accessed than Kovach Park.
Ross even went so far as to dig up a skateboard park study by the City of Lethbridge that seemed to address the issues he was concerned about.
However, that same study was, in the hands of Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee Chairman and City Councillor Gary Starling, ammunition he used to support the selection of Kovach Park.
Calling the lingering skateboard park issue “a personal embarrassment” because it has been unresolved since 2010, Starling said Kovach “is not the perfect location but it is the best location.”
Councillors Phil Welock and Linda Nixon agreed with him while Chris Johnston, Steve Bender and Tony Scarcella opposed the Kovach location. All Councillors spoke for and against the location and were so passionate that Mayor David Raven remarked that “this is the most oratory I’ve ever heard at a Council meeting.”
All Councillors support the concept of a new skateboard facility, so that was never in doubt, although Chris Johnston questioned the decision to over-ride community opposition.
“What I think we’re doing is making a decision just for the sake of moving forward,” he said, adding that other potential locations should have been better studied.
That was echoed somewhat by Steve Bender who questioned why some people think a skateboard park may require police monitoring. “What would you think if this was being built next to you?” he asked. “I support a skateboard park but in a different location.”
For her part, Linda Nixon said she thinks Kovach could become “a multigenerational park.”
That resonated with CVSA President Karl Jost who said after the vote that installing benches and other amenities may help make the park more acceptable, especially if seniors find that watching young people maneuver on their boards is a pleasant way to spend part of their day.
On a final note, if you were to judge support for and against the Kovach location strictly by the quality of the letters sent to Council it would never have been approved. Opponents wrote passionate original letters while supporters of the CVSA’s push for Kovach sent in, for the most part, form letters.