From Kim Anderson of The St. Cloud Times and www.sctimes.com
Elation filled the St. Cloud City Council chambers Monday night as a
13-year debate over where to build a skate plaza came to a rest.
council approved building a plaza at Heritage Park with a 5-2 vote.
Council members Sonja Berg and Carolyn Garven dissented, saying the
natural setting of the park was ill-suited for such a facility.
The vote was met with cheers and a standing ovation from the more than 50 supporters in the room.
Lee, 17, has been instrumental in planning the plaza and getting the
support it needed to get approval. He had a hard time hiding his
enthusiasm Monday after the vote.
"I'm pretty excited," he said.
hearing focused on whether Heritage Park should be the site, rather
than questions on money and design. Those will be discussed at future
meetings. The hearing lasted an hour with about a dozen speakers.
Many of the detractors were concerned about safety at the site because traffic is heavy nearby.
also included the fact that Heritage Park is a natural setting, where
people fish and walk on trails. Some felt a skate plaza wouldn't fit in
with those uses.
said the park would be an even better place for families to visit.
While some skateboard, others could enjoy the nature trails and Stearns
History Museum that is at the park. They also said the park's location
near businesses is a plus for teens looking to eat after skateboarding.
Council members acknowledge the concerns, but ultimately decided the site was the best option for the city.
Berg said she's heard more from residents on the skate plaza issue than any other and echoed concerns about nearby traffic.
Garven said Heritage Park is meant for "passive" use and a skate plaza doesn't coincide with that.
"This is a disconnect for me," she said.
member Dave Masters said he likes the Heritage Park site. It's an
opportunity to attract younger residents to the park's natural area, he
"I think that's a real plus," he said.
president Bob Johnson bristled at suggestions that skateboarders are
anti-social and the not-in-my-neighborhood mentality some have about a
"I just think that's wrong," he said.
part of the city's goal to provide a variety of recreation that serves
a variety of interests, from skateboarding to tennis to swimming, he
"This is not about any one group," he said. "This is about a whole community."