By David F. Rooney
With valid points in favour of each of two completing site plans for the Kovach Park reorganization, the City’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee will likely need the wisdom of Solomon to sort out what to do.
Two weeks ago, the committee had, without the knowledge of the Southside Neighbourhood Committee, recommended Site Plan Three over Plan Four, which the majority of neighbourhood residents had favoured. Council then approved the plan but was forced to backtrack in the face of vocal opposition from Southsiders who said that was not the plan they favoured.
The park is scheduled for redevelopment to include a new skateboard facility as well as a seniors exercise area.
Councillor Connie Brothers, who is the standing committee’s vide-chair, cited Community Charter Section 131 as she convened a special meeting of the City committee on Monday evening. That section of the Charter permits City Councils to, in effect, reconsider decisions they have already taken. The committee’s regular chairman, Aaron Orlando, recused himself from the meeting because of his ties to the Columbia Valley Skateboard Association. The CVSA is spearheading the drive to build a new skateboard facility at the park that is prompting its reorganization .
At Monday evening’s meeting Josie Woodman and Bob Melnyk discussed the reasons they and their neighbours preferred Plan No. 4 over No. 3:
- Plan 4 spreads out activity spaces more evenly across the park while Plan 3 concentrates them in the eastern half of the park;
- Plan 4 separates the the basketball court and skateboard park favoured by very young children and their moms and seniors who might be intimidated by older children and teens; and
- Plan 4 also situates a planned restroom facility closer to Edward Street and the eastern end of the park than the other plan, which called for it to be situated in the center of the park.
Melnyk also said there have been a few noise issues late at night but neither he nor anyone else in the neighbourhood has “an axe to grind with the skate boarders.
“All we’re asking for is a little buffer space,” he said, adding that area residents would like a curfew in the park to cut down on late-night noise complaints. At this point in time there are no curfews in any of Revelstoke’s municipal parks.
Councillor Gary Sulz told the meeting he received 17 e-mails from area residents about their preferences. Four favoured Plan 3; 13 liked Plan 4.
Parks, Recreation and Culture Director Laurie Donato said she believed that the neighbourhood was more evenly split but did not give any numbers to support that impression. However, comments by RCMP Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky and Development Services Manager Dean Strachan provided some insight into the reasons that Plan 3 was originally selected over Plan 4.
Grabinsky said Plan 3’s concentration of activities is more likely to prevent young children from wandering away from the park and the more central location of the restroom is more likely to discourage anyone from inappropriate lurking. In fact, he and two other RCMP officers looked at the plans independently of each other and all three came to the same conclusion: From a security point of view Plan 3 was superior to Plan 4.
Strachan made the observation that by concentrating activities in one half of the park, there is more “unprogrammed space” available to the public.
“Unprogrammed space is a rarity in an urban setting,” he said.
A decision regarding the future of Kovach Park could be announced as early as Tuesday afternoon’s regular City Council meeting.