August 29, 2002
An Alexandria skatepark will move one step forward or backward on Sept. 3, when the city's Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities makes its formal appeal to the City Planning Commission for a Special Use Permit (SUP).
That is also when representatives of various homeowner associations and businesses are likely to appear in support or opposition to the $200,000 city investment needed to create the recreation attraction at Luckett Park, 3300 Duke St.
On Aug. 14, a notice of that public hearing was sent to all property owners in the vicinity of the proposed site. In that letter the facility was described as approximately 12,000 square feet of hard surface that will be poured concrete. It will accommodate several pieces of equipment and will be surrounded by a fence. An existing parking lot is available off Wheeler Avenue. The skatepark portion of the site will be open during daylight hours only, and there is no additional lighting in the proposed plan. A fence, berms, guardrail and shrubbery will separate Duke Street from the skatepark. The park will be professionally landscaped by the department's landscape architect and arborist."
ON AUG. 15, a meeting of the planning committee for the park was held at the Lee Center to review various designs for the facility and to discuss both fund-raising and hearing strategies. Kirk Kincannon, department deputy director of Parks, Natural Resources and Capital Projects, noted that "if the project is approved, it will probably be operational by spring."
He also stated, "If this one is successful, we will start to look at other locations." He urged those present, especially the youths, to appear at the Planning Commission meeting to argue their case.
A vital part of the financing for the park is a commitment by a group calling themselves "Friends of the Skatepark." They have committed to raise $40,000 to help finance the endeavor.
Carol Freeman, Peter Smealie and Jack Taylor, all members of the group, held a separate fund-raising strategy session during the structural planning portion of the Aug. 15 meeting. One of the prime elements of the fund-raising effort will be an automobile raffle.
Taylor, head of Jack Taylor Toyota on Route 1, is donating a 2003 Matrix. The plan is to sell 400 tickets at $100 each. The winner can either take the car or $15,000 cash, according to Kincannon.
"The city will provide $200,000 for the park, but there will be an additional $25,000 needed for architectural design," according to Julie Rasmussen, the department's division chief for recreation/park planning.
She acknowledged that the Quaker Hill Home Owners Association, located directly across Duke Street from the site, "wanted to know about supervision. I told them it was self-regulating."
IT IS ANTICIPATED the park will be open seven days a week during daylight hours. There will be no additional lighting or installation of restrooms, according to departmental personnel.
Located at the intersection of Duke Street and Quaker Lane, Luckett Field was chosen following the inspection of a series of potential sites. At an earlier meeting, City Council member Redella S. Pepper stated, "I definitely support this idea. I think the site is absolutely perfect."
The $200,000 city price tag was segmented as follows: ADA accessibility improvements, $25,000; equipment, $65,000; paving, $60,000; shipping and installation, $15,000; fence installation, $12,000; other factors, $23,000.
If the Planning Commission approves the SUP on Sept. 3, the proposal then goes to City Council for its Sept. 14, meeting. If the Commission denies the request it can be appealed to Council at its September meeting. If the Commission defers action, it will roll over to a future date of that body before advancing to Council.