For the week of April 7, 1999  thru April 13, 1999  

Residents appeal skate park approval

Express Staff Writer

In a last-ditch effort to keep a temporary skate park from blossoming in their backyards this spring, a group of Hailey residents has appealed a decision to approve the plan.

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission granted the Hailey Skate Park Committee a conditional-use permit on March 16 for the installation of 12 wooden ramps and pipe structures at the south end of the city-owned parking lot on the corner of Bullion and River streets.

Those structures could be installed in May, according to conditions spelled out by the P&Z.

The appeal will be heard by the city council. A date has not been set.

In the notice of intent to appeal, a Twin Falls attorney representing the mostly Bullion Street residents stated that requirements for the application had not been met. The letter does not specify how the application was deficient and the attorney, Gary Slette, could not be reached for comment.

The letter also states that the skate park would "not be harmonious with the existing or intended character of the general vicinity, and that the use would be detrimental to persons and property in the area by reason of excessive noise and traffic."

The 11 residents who signed their names to the appeal say they are not opposed to the skate park concept.

"The individuals who are appealing this decision have made it clear to me that they feel a skateboard park is not only a desirable, but also a necessary use to be accommodated within the city of Hailey," Slette wrote in the letter.

They apparently just don’t want it within earshot of their homes.

"Our goal is not to leave these kids out in the cold," said Bob Welsh, one of the Bullion Street residents appealing the decision, in an interview. "We’re not going to go through with this if we can’t come up with an alternative site."

According to Welsh, in all of Idaho, the closest a skate park has been built to a residential area is 150 feet. If installed, Hailey’s temporary park will sit 30 feet from Welsh’s bedroom window.

Welsh has been searching for alternative locations for a temporary park, something he said the Hailey Skate Park Committee has been remiss in doing.

He said the rodeo grounds and school property, near the airport, are potential sites for a temporary skate park.

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

"This whole thing is temporary, and we need to stress that," said skate park committee member Jim Kuehn.

All of the requirements for the application have been met, Kuehn said.

"This isn’t slowing us down," he said. "We’re commencing on construction of quarter pipes right now."

Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer said he was advised by city attorney Susan Baker not to comment on the appeal since it is still under review by the council.


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