Area youths talk to council about building skate park
It's been more than five years since serious talk about a skate park in Tonganoxie was heard at a Tonganoxie city council meeting.
On Monday, council members heard loud and clear from a new group of local bike and skate enthusiasts who want to put Tonganoxie on the map with Lawrence and Topeka as cities with a skate park.
A near capacity crowd at Monday's meeting consisted mostly of skaters and their parents who spoke during open agenda about their desire to progress with a park.
Five teens spoke to the council about why the city should pursue a skate park. The teens mentioned that traveling back and forth to other cities to skate becomes costly with gas prices. And, it's a way for youths to stay out of trouble, they said.
Bill Jones, who suggested constructing the park in phases, said Tonganoxie is ready for a skate park.
"It gives them a place to ride and a place to be," Jones said.
Council member Jim Truesdell, who also is on the advisory committee looking into a new swimming pool, asked whether a pool would satisfy the youths' needs for activities.
"Unless it's empty and they can ride their bikes in it," Collier quipped.
Council member Jason Ward asked Jones what prompted the group speaking to the council, as it was the first they'd heard of the issue. Jones said that he first spoke with recreation commission officials about a park. They directed him to the city council to get the ball rolling again.
"I'm certainly not against it," Ward said about a skate park.
Jones asked the council, if suitable land were designated and residents could raise money for the park, whether it could donate the land.
Mayor Dave Taylor said he would be willing to donate the land, but council member Roberts disagreed.
"No one is in the position to answer that question," Roberts said.
"I just did," Taylor said quietly.
When the topic first was discussed roughly five years ago, youths worked with BG Consultants, the city's engineering firm, in designing plans for the park, but the push for the skate park eventually faded.
Because many council members weren't in office when the skate park first was discussed, Roberts said there needed to be new dialogue.
"We need to have an opportunity to look at what we would or wouldn't do," Roberts said.
After additional discussion, the council agreed to direct City Administrator Mike Yanez to evaluate possibilities for a park regarding costs and potential sites.
In other business, the council:
- Gave fire Chief Dave Bennett the authority to pursue the purchase of two new fire trucks for a price not to exceed $485,000. In addition, Bennett will be selling two trucks, one that's outdated and another which he said has been a maintenance headache. He said the sale could generate $85,000. The council approved the measure 4-0, with Steve Gumm abstaining because his employer, First State Bank and Trust, is working on a potential lease-purchase agreement with the fire department for the trucks.
- Heard from Bucher, Willis and Ratliff representatives about the U.S. 24-40 corridor study, which, when finished, is expected to provide local governments with recommendations on how to preserve high-speed travel on U.S. Highway 24-40 from south of Tonganoxie to Kansas Highway 7 without hindering development.
The public is invited to attend a focus group session in which the planning firm will ask what the major issues facing the corridor are and will be. The meeting, set for 6 p.m. Oct. 12 at the VFW Hall, will be a workshop setting that is expected to last about two and a half hours.
Two representatives from Tonganoxie, Basehor, Leavenworth County, Mid-America Regional Council and the Kansas Department of Transportation have been meeting monthly to discuss preliminary issues of the study.