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Winlock re-opens skate park in response to request for use

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Winlock Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell surveys the facilities at the city's skate park after the park was opened again last Wednesday in response to concerns from the City Council about the availability of youth activities in town. Dowell explained the park is normally closed during the winter, but the council desires to see the park open indefinitely both for use by residents at large as well as students within the Winlock School District's APOLO program.

The Winlock City Council has chosen to re-open the city's skate park after it had been closed due to ongoing vandalism, among other problems, citing a need to provide recreation for area children.

Approved during the council's Nov. 24 meeting, officials opted to re-open the park during what had originally been a discussion about a potential interlocal agreement with the Winlock School District to make the park available as a resource for students in the APOLO program, located just across from the park, to earn PE credits.

Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell said, since being approached with the idea by Winlock Miller Elementary School Principal Boyd Calder, who administrates APOLO, the city's legal counsel had been asked to draft an interlocal agreement defining the district's expected responsibilities as well as the legal indemnity of the city.

Dowell told the council, as of the meeting, Winlock was still waiting for such a draft, but council members asked why the park could not simply be opened and the students allowed to use it within current park guidelines.

"This is a public skate park," said Council Member Aaron Mummert. "Why are we waiting for [a draft of the agreement] when it can be opened now?"

Dowell explained the park is normally closed for the winter and, because of the closure, Calder had asked if the city would consider allowing the park to be opened during certain times of the week for use by APOLO students. Dowell added the most recent closure had been because of recurring damage to park facilities, as well as drug use and other illicit activities taking place at the facility.

Council Member Sarah Gifford said she felt there continues to be too few options for youth activities in Winlock, stating she wanted to know why the skate park was fenced off to begin with, stating similar parks in Napvine, Kelso and Centralia do not have such barriers.

"We don't offer anything for these kids," she said, stating an open skate park could provide another alternative to drug use for local kids. "If you don't play sports, what else do you have to do here but hang out downtown?"

City Attorney Erin Hillier said she felt the matter of opening the skate park and making it available to APOLO students during specific times of the day were separate issues, stating the city would still need to create an agreement with the district if they were, for example, to set aside an hour or so during the school day for APOLO kids to use the park.

But the council said they felt, if the park were simply open to all residents, such an agreement would not be needed, and voted to re-open the facility, which was unlocked and made available on Nov. 26.

Also discussed was the opportunity for APOLO students to assist the Park Board with making improvements to the skate park, as a chance for students to both acquire job skills as well as take pride in and ownership of the facility.

The Park Board has reported they already have steel set aside to repair and replace portions of the ramps in the par

Winlock Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell surveys the facilities at the city's skate park after the park was opened again last Wednesday in response to concerns from the City Council about the availability of youth activities in town. Dowell explained the park is normally closed during the winter, but the council desires to see the park open indefinitely both for use by residents at large as well as students within the Winlock School District's APOLO program.

The Winlock City Council has chosen to re-open the city's skate park after it had been closed due to ongoing vandalism, among other problems, citing a need to provide recreation for area children.

Approved during the council's Nov. 24 meeting, officials opted to re-open the park during what had originally been a discussion about a potential interlocal agreement with the Winlock School District to make the park available as a resource for students in the APOLO program, located just across from the park, to earn PE credits.

Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell said, since being approached with the idea by Winlock Miller Elementary School Principal Boyd Calder, who administrates APOLO, the city's legal counsel had been asked to draft an interlocal agreement defining the district's expected responsibilities as well as the legal indemnity of the city.

Dowell told the council, as of the meeting, Winlock was still waiting for such a draft, but council members asked why the park could not simply be opened and the students allowed to use it within current park guidelines.

"This is a public skate park," said Council Member Aaron Mummert. "Why are we waiting for [a draft of the agreement] when it can be opened now?"

Dowell explained the park is normally closed for the winter and, because of the closure, Calder had asked if the city would consider allowing the park to be opened during certain times of the week for use by APOLO students. Dowell added the most recent closure had been because of recurring damage to park facilities, as well as drug use and other illicit activities taking place at the facility.

Council Member Sarah Gifford said she felt there continues to be too few options for youth activities in Winlock, stating she wanted to know why the skate park was fenced off to begin with, stating similar parks in Napvine, Kelso and Centralia do not have such barriers.

"We don't offer anything for these kids," she said, stating an open skate park could provide another alternative to drug use for local kids. "If you don't play sports, what else do you have to do here but hang out downtown?"

City Attorney Erin Hillier said she felt the matter of opening the skate park and making it available to APOLO students during specific times of the day were separate issues, stating the city would still need to create an agreement with the district if they were, for example, to set aside an hour or so during the school day for APOLO kids to use the park.

But the council said they felt, if the park were simply open to all residents, such an agreement would not be needed, and voted to re-open the facility, which was unlocked and made available on Nov. 26.

Also discussed was the opportunity for APOLO students to assist the Park Board with making improvements to the skate park, as a chance for students to both acquire job skills as well as take pride in and ownership of the facility.

The Park Board has reported they already have steel set aside to repair and replace portions of the ramps in the park, while members of the Winlock Lions Club said they are prepared to provide paint, brushes and rollers toward such projects.

Hillier advised, when it comes to allowing such a project to move forward, the matter should be discussed and determined by the Park Board rather than the council, as the board has the greatest experience and most vested interest in such issues. However, the Winlock Park Board has only two active members and, without a third, is unable to reach a quorum to meet and make such decisions, thought City Hall has been encouraging area residents to apply for appointment to the open board positions.

Those wishing to utilize the skate park may do so between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. or dusk, whichever comes first. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, weapons and other contraband are still not allowed in the park. Posted rules also state the park should not be used during adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow or ice.

An example of vandalism at the skate park, in this instance to a sign displaying the rules and guidelines for park use, which has been described as an ongoing problem for the city. Damage to park facilities has been cause for closing the skate park in the past, though local students have said they are willing to help maintain and improve the park under the guidance of the Winlock Park Board to help take pride in and ownership of the facility.

k, while members of the Winlock Lions Club said they are prepared to provide paint, brushes and rollers toward such projects.

Hillier advised, when it comes to allowing such a project to move forward, the matter should be discussed and determined by the Park Board rather than the council, as the board has the greatest experience and most vested interest in such issues. However, the Winlock Park Board has only two active members and, without a third, is unable to reach a quorum to meet and make such decisions, thought City Hall has been encouraging area residents to apply for appointment to the open board positions.

Those wishing to utilize the skate park may do so between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. or dusk, whichever comes first. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, weapons and other contraband are still not allowed in the park. Posted rules also state the park should not be used during adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow or ice.

An example of vandalism at the skate park, in this instance to a sign displaying the rules and guidelines for park use, which has been described as an ongoing problem for the city. Damage to park facilities has been cause for closing the skate park in the past, though local students have said they are willing to help maintain and improve the park under the guidance of the Winlock Park Board to help take pride in and ownership of the facility.

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