Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Police chief safe, Tarentum council relocates proposed skatepark

Tarentum Borough Council, March 20, 2006Last night the Tarentum Council held its monthly meeting and took important actions to move forward with the proposed skatepark. Beginning at 6:30 the meeting took 48 minutes to complete its work.

The meeting began with a moment of humor as the roll was being called. When Police Chief William Vakulick's name was called, I heard the mayor say what sounded like "Taken prisoner." With visions of a secret hostage situation in this tranquil riverside borough rising in my mind, those on the council were clearly doing a double-take as well, so the mayor explained that the chief was taking a prisoner to Pittsburgh.

At the time of citizen comments there was an extended conversation about a meeting of select business owners that had taken place recently, with questions about why only certain businesses had been invited.Councilman Bill Rossey explained that a number of such meetings were still to take place. I was a bit puzzled when he described a meeting in 2004 as having been poorly attended. I had been at that meeting, had met a number of new people, and had thought that the group was an adequate size for a useful sharing of information.

There was a specific citizen concern raised about pellet guns allegedly being sold to young people from the junk store at the corner of 4th and Corbet. That store sells a lot of potentially dangerous items (some that appear to be collectibles), and the possibility of these items coming into the hands of children is a serious concern. The police confiscated a number of pellet guns from children over the last week.

When the council came to the part of the meeting for acting on the proposed skatepark, I was surprised to notice that none of the skateboarders were present. There had been a number of them at the committee meeting the previous week, and they explicitly had been invited to come to the council meeting when actions would be taken and their input would be needed. For some reason, none were present.

Council President Magnetta reported that the county had given permission to the borough to relocate the skatepark project, so the borough council voted to move the project to the Dreshar Stadium Recreation location. Now that the location is settled it is possible to start designing the skatepark. The intention has been all along for the skateboarders to be involved in the design of the park. In January Council President Magnetta asked for names and telephone numbers of interested skateboarders to be provided to him so that he could work with them. So far no names have been submitted. It would be a real shame if the local skateboarders allowed the project to lose momentum by failing to participate in the planning process, especially when it is now so close to coming into reality.

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Anonymous said...

Don't you dare blame the skateboarders for this one. We have come to meetings time and time again, only to be blown off.

The truth is, this project lost momentum the minute Ginger was taken off the Parks and Rec Committee. She actually took the time to take steps and initiative for the project. Carl is just taking credit. THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Stewart said...

Before I respond to your statement, I wish to state that because you are posting from a position of anonymity, no one can verify if you are even one of the skateboarders who came to some meetings. You might just be someone trying to maintain unnecessary conflict in order to sabotage the skatepark project.

I did not blame anyone, but I wonder why no skateboarders were present at that meeting.

There is a political process through which the skatepark will come into being. People with many different motivations are involved in it. Those who want the skatepark to happen need to be monitoring the process and to have accurate information about what is happening and how the process is moving along.

Having even one or two skateboarders present any time the council meets would ensure that the skating community is getting accurate information, and would be able to mobilize when there genuinely is a need to show commitment from large numbers. Unfortunately, Ginger Sopcak called in sick for the most recent meeting, so she is not in a position to pass along any first-hand information that came out of the meeting. In light of her absence, it was very unfortunate that none of the skaters were present.

When the park is complete, credit will be given to everyone who had a hand in making it happen. The public knows who has been doing the work. The project and dream is bigger than any one person, but each person can play a role in making it happen.

Elphaba said...

To Anonymous...

Are you trying to sabotage this project? Seems to me that when you build a house the foundation should go down first.

I have been to every one of these meetings involving the skatepark and at all of those meetings a criteria and foundation has been layed in an effort to move this project forward. There was a matter of location that was imparitive to building the park. At most metings the skaters converged on the council in an effort to 'bully' them into approving the park. Well, that was already done. The next step was where to build the park. Seems pretty logical to me. And, for the last 2 months the council has been asking for the names of 3 representitives to help design the park. Where are those reps and why aren't they coming to the meetings? If you are attending the meetings and listening actively you would have understood the steps that needed to be taken to move this project forward.

Ginger did get the grant for the park through a grant writer and for that she needs to be commended. However, at every meeting since then she has been ill-prepared with any information pertaining to the design,and devlopment of the park. So can you tell me exactly what steps she has taken and followed through on? The March 14 meeting was a meeting planned for our yearly audit. ALL of the council members were aware of this. There was to be no other business to be discussed at this time. If you were told differently, maybe it's time to get your information elsewhere and make sure it is solid information. At that meeting Mr. Magnetta announced that the skatepark issue would be discussed at the following meeting on March 20. Again, if you had attended you would have heard that announcement. At last Monday's council meeting, that you obviously did not attend, credit was given to Ginger for her involvement. Unfortunately Ginger was ill that evening and missed the meeting. Also, the location for the park was approved by council. Now they sit and wait for the names they have asked for to move forward with the design. Not one skater showed for the meeting. Why? Were you advised otherwise?

Truth is, I see more advancement and steps taken since Mr. Magnetta took over as Rec committee chairman. He has done research on these parks, visited surrounding parks, talked to insurance reps, found a suitable location, and when he cannot answer a question he tells you he will research it and get that information to you. I don't see him taking any credit for this project. What I do see is someone who wants to make sure this project moves forward and becomes a reality for the skaters in our area. If this is going to come down to who gets credit for what then maybe the residents and council should rethink this project. The credit is not the issue. The completion of the park is the issue and the skaters have been asked to participate. And at no time were the skaters blamed for anything. Where did you get that info? Oh, I forgot you are anonymous...

If you are serious about the park, quit your sniveling, get in touch with Mr. Magnetta, get your facts straight, get the real information you need and let's move on with it.

an observer said...

I don't think anyone could blame the skateboarders for NOT attending Tuesday's meeting.

A group of about a dozen skaters were at the last meeting and very patiently sat through the most dreadfully boring hand wringing about how Tarentum is on the financial ropes.

At the end of this self-congratulatory exercise in futility (Cause if you think they're going to actually cut costs anywhere you're naive as hell) council told these very well behaved and mature young people that they had no plans to discuss the issue they came to hear about.

I would have ditched the next meeting too. And shame on Carl Magnetta for insinuating this week that the skaters weren't committed to their cause.

Anonymous said...

I think you touched on an important issue here. Cutting costs and spending within the boro. I've lived here for some time and have seen the ridiculous things they spend money on. Their high powered lunches, conventions, parties, etc., and yet our streets are in desperate need of repair, houses needed to be cleaned up or torn down, and business owners are not held responsible for the way their exterior property looks. And, we have way too much government for a boro this size. If they enforced the codes (and we were told that it takes up to 120 days to enforce a code) and stared bringing some money into this town we might be able to better serve our fire departments and our police department. We are a focal point on the demographic map. Tarentum is a town you pass going and coming from New Ken, going to the mall, exiting from 28, and so on. People fly right by us because we don't welcome new businesses and our town is in such bad need of repair. Crime has increased and our police department does not have the man power to handle this problem. This is all passed on to us, the residents. Truth is, they really don't have any solid long term plan to correct some of the problems we will face in the future. Higher electric and water rates in 2007 will also be passed on to us. However, the auditor did mention that taxes could be rasied to help these problems. I pay plenty to live here and see little growth, development, and repair in the last five years.

As far as the skatepark and the skaters are concerned, there was a missed line of communication passed on to them about the content of the March 13 meeting. It was unfortunate that they had to sit through the (yawn, roll eyes) auditing meeting, but maybe they learned something. They will soon be the elected officials and tax payers of the boro. Good for them to get an education. However, they are now moving along and involved in helping plan and design the skatepark and I see that as a positive thing for them and us. It will get them their park and help educate them on the political system it entails to make such things happen.

With Carl, I am willing to give him a chance to see this park through as well as the many other ideas he has for this town in the way of recreation. He certainly seems to have made enormous progress in the skateparks development. But, he cannot do it alone and he has made mention of that many times. Let's see what he is capable of before we throw him to the wolves.

As for the rest of the good old boys, well, we will just have to sit back and see if they are really committed to cutting costs and spending in the boro.

Anonymous said...

And now.... the skatepark is CLOSED ..with no place for the youth to go.