Should the skate park be moved?

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A group of Albert Lea residents has petitioned the Albert Lea City Council to move the city’s skate park from its present location near City Beach.

The residents, who live on three streets surrounding the skate park, said they have experienced foul language, fights, vandalism and even drug deals at the park. They say people are using the park beyond its set hours and have been seen urinating in public at any time of day.

“We shouldn’t have to live like that and listen to that and watch that,” said resident Peggy Ackland, who together with her husband, Richard, signed the petition.

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The Acklands said they have called the police multiple times after they have seen questionable behavior, but by the time an officer arrives, the youths are often gone.

The couple said they have offered to pay the cost of transporting the ramps to a new site because of the extent of the problems.

Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Director Jay Hutchison said the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board voted at its Sept. 16 meeting to move the park. The concerns will come before the City Council at its first meeting in November during a public hearing.

Hutchison said the skate park started out near the city pool but was moved near City Beach. He questioned where to move the park and if moving it back closer to the pool was the solution.

“If you just push it from one neighborhood, are you still going to have some of the same problems?” he asked.

Sharon Nelson, another petitioner, said when the skate park originated there was supervision there. Now, she said, the park is to the point where she wouldn’t even take her grandchildren there if they came down to visit.

“I believe there are enough nonresidential areas in this community where it could be,” she said.

Richard Ackland suggested bringing in pickleball courts to where the skate park is now and moving the park closer to the pool.

The petition had signatures from 24 people. The people live on Johnson Street, Clausen Drive and Raymond Avenue.

There are restrooms in the building at City Beach. Hutchison said he was unsure of the cost of moving the ramps and other park equipment.