Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Skateboard Park Site Becomes an Obstacle; If the Location Changes, Money through a State Grant Is Jeopardized

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Skateboard Park Site Becomes an Obstacle; If the Location Changes, Money through a State Grant Is Jeopardized

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY HURST

FERNANDINA BEACH -- Skateboarders who have dreamed of a legal place to skate on Amelia Island may have to wait a while longer for a skateboard park.

The continuing delays frustrate Patty Murray, skateboard mom to four sons.

"There is such a lack of communications," she said. "You can call three different people and get three different answers."

The latest holdup is the city's change of mind regarding where to put the proposed park, a change that threatens the project's funding.

The city last year landed a $150,000 Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program grant to build a skateboard park on the same Bailey Road land that is now home to softball and soccer fields. Fernandina Beach has until April 2008 to use the money or forfeit the grant.

As planning progressed, however, the city's police and fire chiefs raised concerns that the Bailey Road location was too remote to assure a fast response by fire and police personnel should someone be injured.

City Manager Michael J. Czymbor also cited lack of sidewalks and public rest rooms as a reason to take the time to find a better location.

But the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which awarded the grant, said if the city changes the location from what was approved, the grant money goes away.

"Apparently, it's some sort of administrative rule of the DEP," said Larry Myers, legislative aide to state Rep. Aaron Bean.

He and Bean asked DEP officials if they would reconsider their position. DEP officials said no.

Myers said the city had a couple of options -- building the facility as originally planned; forfeiting the grant and reapplying, taking a chance the project would not be funded again; or having the city attorney talk with DEP attorneys to see if the location of the skateboard park could be changed without jeopardizing funding. …

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