Skate park, splash pad discussed

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Troubles concerning the skate park and a reveal of two bids for the planned splash pad were among the larger topics of discussion during the Waterloo Park District Board meeting last Wednesday.

Midway through the meeting, Waterloo resident Alan Mitan was given the opportunity to speak about issues he’s had with individuals at the skate park that neighbors his home.

Mitan expressed similar issues with the skate park during a Waterloo City Council meeting last month, and had previously voiced concerns to the park board.

Mitan opened by saying the park has little regulation. While many use the park as intended – with kids wearing helmets and parents supervising their children – others have tended to cause trouble at the park.

“Those are the good citizens that use the park appropriately,” Mitan said. “But the ones who don’t, they’ve been emboldened to participate in unsafe and dangerous activity. Sometimes these activities, as I’ve discussed, are illegal such as harassment inside and outside the park.”

Mitan expressed the need for immediate and long-term solutions, suggesting the introduction of new park policy as well as a strengthening of current policy and rule enforcement.

He expressed that some issues he’s discussed before, like alleged drug deals at the park and lights remaining on late into the night, have seemingly been resolved, though Waterloo Park Board President Shelby Mathes insisted the skate park’s lights have always been turned off at 9 p.m.

Mathes and Mitan also argued about a video showing an altercation between Mitan’s 7-year-old son wielding a bat against several young teenagers at the skate park.

Mitan said that a boy that young wouldn’t leave his yard unprovoked, to which Mathes argued that the Mitans’ eight-foot fence would have prevented the teens from harassing Mitan’s children.

The video was shown during the meeting but, according to Mathes, the altercation also involved rocks and eggs thrown by Mitan’s children and one of the teens calling Mathes, as he had given them his phone number previously.

The argument was stopped before things got too heated, with other meeting attendants suggesting other solutions and perspectives to the situation.

Mary Gardner suggested taking a more positive view of the skate park, with the community trying to make better use of the park through activities like a tournament for young skaters to showcase their talent.

“Maybe that’s one positive we could look toward, having a youth competition with different grade levels to showcase it,” Gardner said. “Because if the kids use it to practice their skill, they themselves will respect it, and they will make sure that that place stays a better place.”

Skate park discussion closed with the board indicating it would consider the situation more in the future.

After the meeting, Mitan expressed that it was disheartening to see the board  have “no appetite to even start a conversation.”

Also at the meeting, bids for the planned splash pad at Zimmer Park off Rogers Street were revealed. Litteken Construction of Breese submitted a bid for $1,538,600, with Fitzgibbons Contracting of Waterloo offering a lower bid of $1,534,405.

Another bid was dismissed as it was submitted shortly after the deadline.

Bids will be discussed and voted on at the park board meeting next Wednesday, Sept. 21.

A vote for a new board commissioner was also held, with Mitan and lifelong Waterloo residents Scott Davis and Lance West up for the position.

The board was ultimately unable to reach a majority, leaving the position still open.

Mathes offered his thanks to Dan and Beth McConnell, who have volunteered their services to help maintain planters in Waterloo.

“These people have graciously taken care of planters in the park, not asked, not wanting any recognition, but we thought they’ve done such a great job, and we just appreciate the fact that they took the effort to make the community a better place,” Mathes said.

Also discussed at the meeting was a Sept. 2 committee meeting for Waterloo Citizens for a Pool that saw turnout from such figures as businessman George Obernagel and longtime city alderman and mayoral candidate Stan Darter.

The possibility of new pickleball courts at the skate park and at Lakeview Park was also discussed, though both the courts and pool are far off given the current splash pad plans.

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