For the week of March 24, 1999  thru March 30, 1999  

Skate park finds temporary home in Hailey

Express Staff Writer

An impassioned plea for a temporary skate park in downtown Hailey, made by members of the Hailey Skate Park Committee, paid off at the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday night.

After hearing comment from the standing-room-only crowd of mostly high-school-aged committee members and their parents, the commission approved a conditional-use permit that will allow the temporary skate park to be installed at 100 North River Street.

The skate park will be located at the south end of a city-owned lot on the corner of River and Bullion streets.

Consisting of approximately 12 wooden ramps and half-pipes, the skate park is intended for use by inline skaters and BMX cyclists, as well as skateboarders. It will occupy approximately 9,000 square-feet of the lot.

The lot is zoned for business use, and is surrounded by a mix of commercial and residential zones.

The skate park committee will begin construction off-site as soon as funds are available but will not install any structures until May, according to committee member and Wood River Valley High School student Ezzie Strobel-Haft.

That funding will come entirely from donations. The city of Hailey will incur no expenses.

The skate park committee, a nonprofit organization formed to provide the community with a safe and legal place to skate and ride in Hailey, is working toward an ultimate goal of building a permanent, concrete, 15,000-square-foot skate park in Roberta McKercher Park.

The committee has received close to $20,000 in donations that it will put toward development of the permanent park. None of those donations will be tapped to pay for the temporary park, Haft said.

"We feel this is a valid temporary solution due to the fact that this parking lot is rarely used, and we feel it can be put to better use for the community," said Wood River High School student and skate park committee member Holly Nelson.

Nelson cited several reasons to build a skate park in Hailey, including the lack of safe places to skate in Hailey, the surging population of skaters and the problem of crowding at the Wood River Valley’s only skate park in Ketchum.

The location for the site was suggested by Hailey Police Chief Jack Stoneback, who said he felt the site was ideal because of its minimal use and its proximity to the police station. A din of murmuring voices filled the meeting room during most of the hearing, but the room fell utterly silent when one student rose from his chair to speak on behalf of the skate park.

"My friend, Calvin Smith, died last month," Bryan Winkler said. "He really wanted something like this. He would have really wanted something like this in Hailey."

Smith, who had attended Wood River Valley High School, died unexpectedly in February.

Not everyone in the audience, however, came to show support for the park.

"Nobody puts a skate park in a residential neighborhood," Bullion Street resident Bob Welsh said. "A good cause does not make a bad idea good. It’s just going to be intolerable."

Welsh referred to the skate park as the "airport moving into the neighborhood."

He and another Bullion Street resident, Amy Finley, emphasized that they support the sport of skateboarding, as long as it does not happen in their backyards.

"I feel awful being the bad guy," Finley said. "I support the permanent skate park. But I moved here because of the quiet, and I don’t want to give it up."

"This is a great idea in the wrong place," Welsh added.

Another Bullion Street resident, Arne Ryason, threatened to record the noise skaters generate on the wooden ramps and play those recordings on answering machines belonging to Hailey officials.

P&Z member Jan Edelstein said she was "totally supportive" of a skate park in Hailey, but had concerns about its impact on residents.

Other P&Z commissioners echoed Edelstein’s sentiments and, in an effort to appease the neighbors, attached a long list of conditions to the approval of the temporary park:

  • The conditional-use permit will extend only to Oct. 15.

  • The hours of operation will be from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., six days a week until Sept. 5. No skating will be permitted before noon on Sundays.

  • Beginning Sept. 5, the hours will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day but Sunday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

  • Amplified music will not be permitted.

  • The skate park committee will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the structures.

  • The committee must provide a liaison for the community to contact.

  • All structures must be removed from use, stacked, stored and covered with a tarp at one end of the property by Oct. 15.

  • The structures may remain stored on the property until May 1, 2000.

  • All structures must be located at the south end of the parking area.

  • The committee must post a sign describing the hours and rules containing language, to be approved by the city of Hailey.

  • A restroom facility must be provided and approved by the South Central Health District.

  •  The color scheme for the structures must be approved by the city of Hailey.

P&Z member Jenny McGraw said the temporary park would offer the skate park committee a chance to prove itself to the community.

"They know that making this park successful is very important," McGraw said.


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