IMG_3689.jpg

Michael Benjamin, 14, shows off his skills at the Southwest Santa Fe Skateboard Park in 2020.

The Emporia City Commission continued discussions on potential updates to the Lorenzo Delgado Sports Complex skateboard park Wednesday afternoon.

The skateboard park received an anonymous $250,000 donation last year to make improvements and updates. The donation came after Maddox Gutierrez, a local teenager, petitioned the city to do some work on the park. In March, the city reviewed renderings from American Ramp Company as well as pricing quotes for construction, with costs ranging from $250,000 — $500,000 for the work.

Some hiccups to the plans emerged when it was discovered that the Santa Fe Railroad, which owns the property on which the skate park is located, would not extend a lease on the land beyond year-to-year consideration.

“They only want to negotiate a year-to-year lease,” said city manager Trey Cocking.

Cocking said earlier this year, he had the skateboard park consultants back in Emporia. During the meetings it was determined that Whittier Park, located at E. Ninth Avenue and Whittier Street, would be a more favorable location to expand.

“At the end of the day, the skateboard consultants decided that Whittier Park was their preferred location over Santa Fe Park,” he said. “Then, we engaged [Emporia Recreation Commission director Tom McEvoy].”

Cocking said the city was studying how plans for a skateboard park at Whittier Park would align with the ERC’s goals.

“I think we are to the point, unless commission wants me to go back to the drawing board — which I’m willing to do — that we would like to put this plan out and get input from the public,” he said.

Commissioner Susan Brinkman asked what the rec commission’s timeline was for updating Whittier Park, which she said was in a state of disrepair.

“What I’m concerned about is a skateboard park in the middle of a unimproved, falling down park,” she said.

Cocking said he believed “money follows money,” meaning that investments made by the city into the park would lead to more investments.

Brinkman said she wasn’t convinced the rec commission would do anything with Whittier Park. McEvoy said one of the ERC’s priority projects was updating softball fields.

Commissioner Jamie Sauder said he agreed with Brinkman that it was important to have that discussion. He mentioned the need for having a bike trail or pump track somewhere in the city.

Smith said, regardless of the area chosen, the donor was itching to get the project started. She said she’s also spoken to some skateboarders in town, and they are also amenable to having the skateboard park at Whittier Park.

More discussions will come at a future meeting.

In other business, the commission approved several items related to housing development.

First, the commission approved $3.5 million in industrial revenue bonds for Heartland Housing Partners, a developer company owned by Cory Haag and Russ Vogel. The commission had previously approved a $400,000 moderate incoming housing grant for the project, which looks to construct 24 duplex housing units in east Emporia.

The two-bedroom, one bath units are being developed by Heartland Housing Partners — Cory Haag and Ross Vogel. According to Haag, the properties would be the Winston Lofts, located at 412 and 416 E. 12th Ave., the Senate Lofts, located at 1124 and 1128 Union St., and the Mallory Square Lofts, located at 1106 and 1110 Mechanic St.

The commission also approved a development agreement with the Mahtropolis RHID project, which will bring in both single family attached units and multiplex units near Riley Avenue and Whittier Street.

The city agreed to issue GO bonds for just over $1 million for water, sewer, street and drainage improvements.

Commissioners also:

F Approved amendments to the Solid Waste Management Plan.

F Approved an RFQ for 12th Avenue Elevated Storage Tank maintenance.

F Approved year-end bonuses for employees.

The commission will hold a special meeting at 11 a.m. Monday.

(2) comments

cyberspace

It's not up to the skate park consultants to decide where it goes. The effort and the money are intended for Santa Fe Park. BNSF can be trusted to not renege on year to year agreements. It is their best interest to maintain their right of way. This is just another poorly disguised attempt to take development away from the South Side, AGAIN!

Aim_High

If it has been getting used, its absolutely worth expanding... whatever it takes to get kids outdoors doing healthy things.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.