Watertown skate park up in the air

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The Watertown skatepark near Evergreen Park has recently been put on the city council’s radar. It’s few ramps and small concrete space are used by several Watertown youth who decided it’s time for an upgrade.

In the capital investment plan, the skate park has $75k allocated to it. CCN/Hannah Broadbent

“I wanted to get direction on starting this small task force with some of this interested youth,” said city administrator Shane Fineran.

Fineran said that in the beginning of August about four kids approached the city, saying they wanted to be a part of the decision of what happens to the park. The parks commission held open houses and said several kids attended who regularly enjoy the park’s amenities.

Fineran wanted to bring a draft for a plan to the city by October but that idea was rejected by the majority of the council.

“We don’t execute short timelines well, let’s pull the youth in after we have a vision somewhat brought together,” said Mayor Steve Washburn. “Let’s take some time and plan this out.”

Washburn suggested that the council create a vision around what should be done with the park. He asked if the amenities should be replaced and suggested perhaps the skate park become a part of Evergreen. Washburn also said the council needs to provide justification for why they would be looking at the skate park so soon after the decision to momentarily deny further exploration of the disc golf course in Watertown.

“We should have the conversation of making them the same place and merging the two,” Washburn said. “I don’t think (Evergreen) is fully developed within our community.”

Fineran said in the capital investment plan $75,000 is set aside for skate park improvement. Coupled with the $225,000 for Evergreen Park the area could be a $300,000 project. First, the city has more thinking and researching to do.

“We have time to do our homework and come up with some ideas see how this all fits together, I do see that skate park get used quite a bit but is it a $75,000 amenity,” Washburn said.

“I like the idea of getting input from the kids and people that actually use it,” said councilman Mike Walters. “I think we can move forward with those discussions.”

Fineran said in the open houses they saw that it wasn’t just kids on skateboards that used the park. He said scooters and bikes were used as well. Fineran said the needs of people on three different objects will vary.

“The idea is to try and create something that isn’t one sided but will keep all interests engaged,” Fineran said. “That’s the idea, and to hear from them and what they would like to see and shape it so if we make that investment it will get utilized as much as it can.”

Fineran said no matter what the decision with the skate park now, the city will have to consider removing some of the equipment within the next year. He said the city did a rough estimate last year of what the park needs, they found that a lot of the amenities were a potential safety hazard.

“We have a park board that’s highly capable, let’s throw it all out there and see what they come up with,” Washburn said.

The city set direction for the parks commission to hold more open houses and look into exactly what kids would want in the park and how much it gets used. For more info you can view the city council agenda here. http://www.ci.watertown.mn.us/hidden-pages/agenda-details?ltemplate=details&lcommtypeid=11&item_id=887