SEASIDE - "Let's get on it."
That was the recommendation of John Meyer, a Broadway Middle School teacher who advocated active pursuit of a new skate park when addressing city councilors Monday.
Although voicing caution about working out the size and location, councilors echoed his sentiment and reiterated that they had been working with the school district and the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation district toward that goal for more than two years.
"We share your frustration that it's taking so long," Mayor Rosemary Baker-Monaghan said. "We all wish it were built already."
But the action before councilors Monday was a recommendation by the recreation district as well as the police and public works departments to dismantle the existing "Wally World" skate ramp facility in Broadway Park, behind Sunset Pool. Incidents of vandalism and evidence of alcohol, tobacco and drug use at the ramps in recent months had prompted the suggestion.
The ramp was enclosed and supervised shortly after it was built 12 years ago, but issues arose about the fees and operational times. Use dramatically increased when it was made free, but eventually a late-night "party mentality" started to be a problem, said Mary Blake, general manager of the park district.
The sides were removed for greater visibility and plastic siding was installed in 1999, but it sustained damage and problems intensified.
Meyer said he has skated for most of his life and came to Seaside nine years ago largely because of its skating and surfing. He urged the city officials to try to leave a minimal gap between removing the old facility and facilitating a new one.
Vandalism, crime and other problems are the repercussions of "kids who check out early," and have no sense of ownership in public property, Meyer said. But "if kids buy in, they want to protect."
Meyer presented a petition which he said had hundreds of signatures of students, parents, and others willing to help build a new park. He operates a skate club out of the school home room, nearly one-third of the roughly 140 students he sees every day are skaters, and the incentive of the ramp has helped him to encourage students to stay in school, he said.
Among half a dozen elementary and middle school students who attended the council meeting, Bruce Finucane of Warrenton and Matt Peinhardt of Gearhart urged support as a park feature and potential family attraction.
A 10,000-square-foot facility could still have a "world class" design, Blake said. The park district's fund-raising calendar and grant efforts have been directed toward funding, but the challenge has been resolving the location.
Three locations are possible in Broadway Park, Blake said. The recreation board sees advantages of having the facility there because of proximity to its staff and other public amenities and facilities.
School district officials and police have different preferences about where it should be located, she said.
Councilors Diana Schafer, Don Larson and Stubby Lyons joined in general support, but also discussed a need to move carefully to protect the integrity and variety of uses of Broadway Park space.
Larson said he would want a skate park to be adequate in size to last many years, and Lyons added that it should be large enough "to where little kids can skate without being shoved out of the way" by older skaters.
Baker-Monaghan acknowledged regret about taking away a skating facility without a replacement yet. She encouraged concerted efforts to resolve the location issue.
In light of other city projects, spring would be the earliest time any construction be done on a new skate park, said Mark Winstanley, Seaside city manager.
In the end, councilors voted unanimously for the ramp to be dismantled. Tom Inouye of Nehalem, who designed the ramp, plans to coordinate the work and use the materials as a companion piece to Nehalem's skate park. The process could begin as early as this week.
Among other business Monday, councilors:
Directed the staff to prepare an ordinance establishing a public safety committee for Seaside, as recommended by the Spring Break Committee and supported by Police Chief Ken Almberg and Fire Chief Joe Dotson;
Scheduled interviews for nominees to the budget and advertising committees;
Announced that an appeal of a Seaside Planning Commission issue regarding redevelopment of property at 415 Oceanway had been withdrawn;
Proclaimed Dec. 7 as "Pearl Harbor Day," announcing brief ceremonies for that date 11 a.m. at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge.