by Dave Preston
Residents of San Clemente Avenue were vocally opposed Wednesday night to a proposed skateboard park in Lambly Park.
The municipality held an open house at the community centre and a handful of area residents made it clear they don’t want the facility near their homes.
“Finding a suitable location in Peachland is hugely challenging,” said Cheryl Wiebe, director of community services. “Over the years several parks have been analyzed and reviewed.”
About seven years ago, the Board for Life Society, which was working on building a skate park in Peachland, looked at several locations, according to Wiebe.
“At the time, the Lambly Park site was ruled out because there was not considered to be safe access across the highway,” said Wiebe.
Recently traffic lights installed at Clements Crescent and Hwy. 97 has provided a pedestrian crosswalk.
On Wednesday town staff met with RCMP and a representative from design company Newline Skate Parks at Lambly Park and Wiebe said the consensus was that the location is now safe and worth consideration.
Peachland council chose Cousins Park as the location for a skate park years ago, but the current council chose Lambly Park because of “mitigation of issues”, according to Wiebe.
Tennis courts are in the middle of Lambly Park and Wiebe said both Newline and RCMP recommended a skate park be built on the south side of the tennis courts.
Kyle Dion, designer from Newline, told about 40 people at the open house that he is an active skateboarder has been involved in the development of close to 200 skate parks.
“What is the precedent of putting a skate park near residential homes?” asked one attendee.
Dion said Newline has built a number of residential parks that are within about 100 to 150 feet of homes.
“There’s a skate park in Victoria right beside a seniors’ housing complex,” said Dion.
“I think it’s stupid,” said a San Clemente Avenue resident of the Lambly Park location.
When asked if the Lambly Park site is a done deal, Wiebe said staff will put together all feedback received and present it to council in July for a final decision.
One man said he would like to know why Cousins Park was chosen in 2005 and what has changed to make Lambly Park the preferred location now.
“I don’t think anyone is saying Cousins Park is not a good site for a skate park,” said Dion.
Wiebe said the original design in Cousins Park had several features incorporated in it to mitigate the interaction with the adjacent baseball diamond. She added that staff has a limited budget to build a skate park and the Lambly Park location would not require money for mitigation.
“We’re very interested in listening to comments,” said Coun. Peter Schierbeck.
Dion said the cost of skate parks runs about $40 per square foot. He said Peachland is looking at a 5,000 square foot facility.
“Is there a possibility it could end up back at Cousins Park?” asked a woman.
“The simple answer is yes,” replied Wiebe.
Staff received a directive from council to investigate Lambly Park and staff has not investigated Cousins Park as a location, according to Wiebe.
Another attendee asked if it is possible to have a skateboard park and adult baseball in the same area.
“The answer is no,” said Wiebe. She clarified that that comes from the town’s risk manager, who council could choose to ignore.