CITY SKATE PARK GETS GREEN LIGHT

July 10, 2001 11:00 pm

The Brookings City Council Monday voted 4-1 to hire Dreamland Skate Park Design Team to build a public skate park.

Councilor Loraine Kuhn cast the dissenting vote, saying she had some concerns about how Dreamland was to be hired.

The councils decision, made before a packed house of skateboarders and parents, matched a recommendation by the Skate Park Committee and the citys Parks and Recreation Committee, both of whom supported Dreamland.

We try to go along with those people where its feasible and possible, said Brookings Mayor Bob Hagbom.

City Manager Leroy Blodgett agreed.

I do support their decision and I recommend that (the city council) approve the recommendation, Blodgett said.

The decision was an unorthodox one because of the issues surrounding the hiring of Dreamland.

Rather than hiring the company as a contractor with a performance bond, the council hired employees of Dreamland as city employees, which carries the risk of insurance benefits and payment of unemployment to any Dreamland workers who cant work on the project.

Additionally, if they wanted, Dreamland employees could quit the job and there would be no recourse for the city. It would have to start all over again to hire a contractor to finish the job.

Blodgett, however, said the situation is not unlike some other jobs the city has the Public Works Department do.

Often, the city of Brookings and other communities will look at projects and determine if it has the staff to get it done, Blodgett said.

When we do that we dont have contractors and performance bonds. The only difference is we have to hire new employees to come in and do it.

Other than the legal aspects of the dilemma, the prospect of hiring Dreamland brought with it a tremendous savings, Blodgett said.

We could save enough money to make it a larger park, he said.

Blodgett added that with the fence at Bud Cross Little League Field being moved in 50 feet, the original proposed skateboard park site behind the field would be increased dramatically in size.

With that development, it was decided by the Skate Park Committee that the site would be used rather than the other proposed site, which is the flat empty lot next to the field.

Since the skate park will take up the triangular piece of land behind the field, Blodgett said the flat site could be used for additional parking.

I think its a win-win situation for everybody, Blodgett said.

See Skate park, Page 13A

When it came time to vote on the issue, Councilor Frances Johns started it off by making the motion to hire Dreamland for the job.

It was not an easy decision, Johns said. We know we have some young people that this would be great for them.

Councilor Rick Dentino agreed, saying he will take the advice of the committees.

On the strength of that, I support using Dreamland, Dentino said.

Councilor Kuhn, on the other hand, had some misgivings about the way the council was leaning in regard to using Dreamland.

She wanted to eliminate the worry of any potential disasters that could possibly happen with Dreamland working as city employees.

I think its putting a burden on the city and all the citizens that is not very favorable, Kuhn said.

Kuhn stuck to her guns in the final voting and gave a no vote. She said she wants the skateboard park to be built, but she doesnt want the city to be put in a precarious situation.

One of her concerns was cost overflow, but Blodgett said if the cost of the park went over the $120,000 the city has for the park, the city would foot the rest of the bill. The Public Works Department would oversee the work done by Dreamland, he said.

Council member Larry Curry said any cost overflows would be a small price to pay because all of the money came from donations and the city is not footing the bill.

When you stop and think, it would be a very small cost to pay in the total cost, Curry said.

Hagbom was optimistic about the prospect of hiring Dreamland.

You say youre gambling with other peoples money, Hagbom said. I dont think its a gamble. There arent a lot of big contractors building skateboard parks.

Hagbom realizes that if something went wrong with the project he would be considered responsible, but he thinks the matter was common sense.

I always like to do it by the book, but in this particular case, common sense prevails over the book method of doing things, Hagbom said.

Theres a risk to the city, and if it doesnt work, Ill take the brunt of it.

Curry expressed his uneasiness of doing risky things with other peoples money and the responsibility of the council in making his decision.

Im a little cautious when Im spending someone elses money, Curry said. The city has appointed me to spend its money wisely.

As he went over his pros and cons, the crowd waited anxiously to see which way he was going to vote.

Curry mentioned that the donor of the $100,000 for the skate park must be taken into consideration because the anonymous contributor wanted the park to be completed soon.

To not hire Dreamland and to find another contractor would have taken more time and money, so Curry voted in favor of hiring the company.

I think we have to take the risk, Curry said. If we dont, were going to spend a lot more time and money.

Skate Park Committee Chairman Russ Johnson was elated the project will move forward and the city will begin preparing the site for Dreamlands arrival in October.

I cant believe its finally here. Constructions going to begin, Johnson said. Were going to be able to skate that thing before Turkey Day.