Residents, students, city leaders discuss parks at public workshopSEASIDE - "We need to get a skate park."

That was the overriding message from approximately 55 community members who attended a Seaside parks public workshop Tuesday at Seaside High School. The workshop was a step in the process to complete a parks master plan that will guide the maintenance, development and funding of Seaside's parks.

The workshop was led by Darci Connor, a participant in the University of Oregon's Resource Assistance for Rural Environments program, and a group of students from the University's Community Planning Workshop. They are working with a steering committee of various community stakeholders and will use the ideas to create a realistic plan that will be a balance between what people want and what the city can afford. They hope to have a final plan ready to present to the City Council by the end of June, Connor said.

The biggest issue discussed was a skate park. Most who attended the workshop agreed that it was a big need, but disagreed on its location. Virtually all of the city's parks and the Wahanna ball fields were suggested as a possible site.

"I think it should be in Broadway Park, because it's close to my house and close to the middle school," said 14-year-old eighth-grader Nolan Hanrahan. "We just really need a skate park because they're cool and we always get yelled at for skating in places."

Mary Blake, Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District executive director, agreed that a skate park was a major need. She said that SEPRD's budget committee and board will discuss dedicating about $200,000 to a skate park in the 2004-05 proposed budget. Mayor Don Larson hopes that an adequate location will be identified during the master plan creation.

"The City Council has promised kids we'd build a skate park," he said. "Between the city and Sunset, money will be available for a skate park."

A skate park is such a hot topic because skateboarding is a sport that engages the individual, especially boys. It takes kids back into parks for play and keeps them from getting into trouble, Blake said.

Middle school students at the workshop estimated that about half of the boys at the school skate at some time.

"I've worked with the skateboard park process since 1996," said Lexie Hallahan. "The youth are the least represented when it comes to our parks."

Another idea generated during the workshop was a series of trails that would connect parks with the promenade and circle the city. Some suggested that the trail could connect with Gearhart's ridge path.

Other ideas included more facilities at Tillamook Head Trailhead, improved park landscaping, promenade street vendors, more picnic tables, better lighting and improved restrooms in all the parks. Most people suggested that land along the Neawanna Creek Estuary be only minimally developed to create nature trails and viewing areas for wildlife. Others suggested interpretive signs that would detail the area's historical, cultural and environmental significance.

Community members, city employees, city councilors and students of all ages worked together to create maps full of ideas and suggestions for each park space. Connor encouraged community members to "take risks" and share dreams.

"I am really excited to see the range of people here and I'm impressed with the young people that came out," she said. "It's your chance as a community to stand up and say how you value your parks."

Connor had also met with middle school students and a high school leadership class before the Tuesday night workshop.

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