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Leesburg Council Approves Skate Park Construction At Same Location

© Leesburg Today - 09/24/2015

For more than five months the Leesburg Town Council has debated whether to build the town's new skate park in a different location. On Tuesday night, members agreed to move it, but only a few feet.

The Council voted 6-1 to keep the Catoctin Skate Park at its Catoctin Circle location when it is renovated next year, but it will shift that construction a few feet to the south to better accommodate the planned expansion of the Loudoun County Rescue Squad.

Councilwoman Suzanne Fox was the dissenter.

""I appreciate the rescue squad's input in this and they most certainly need more room,"" Vice Mayor Kelly Burk said. ""Moving it over to the gravel lot is where it needs to go. It's walkable. It's close to trails. It's close to the rescue squad when there are injuries. And it serves a part of the town that's underserved.""

With the approval, the final design of the new skate park can move forward. The new park, in which concrete features will replace wooden ramps, is expected to be complete in 12 months, Parks and Recreation Director Rich Williams said.

""This has been a difficult process to get all the way through,"" Councilman Dave Butler said. ""People have made persuasive arguments to move the park.""

The other popular option was moving the facility to Ida Lee Park, where it would be close to the town's other recreation activities and allow for expansion of the rescue squad and a sale of land to Dulles Motorcars, which sits on the other side of the current skate park. Other options were to keep it within its existing footprint or relocating the park to the Douglass School property in a partnership with the county, but a new park couldn't be constructed at the school for several years.

Fox said moving the park to the gravel lot is a ""Band-Aid"" and that moving the park was a better option.

""There could have been a lot of winners here,"" Fox said. ""Dulles Motorcars has been left out of this equation. … I think taxpayers lost out here with without the sale of the property.""

The council has allocated $544,000 for the renovation project. By moving the park just a few feet, there will be $260,000 in additional costs, related mostly to stormwater management. But the rescue squad offered to pay that overage. Councilman Tom Dunn suggested the squad seek county funds to help.

""I think every member has expressed desire to accommodate the rescue squad expansion,"" Mayor Kristen Umstattd said. ""Providing them room to expand is better than nothing.""

Williams said that now that the location has been selected, his staff can reinitiate the design process. They already have received input from residents on what type of features should be included in the park, which will be designed by national skate park developer Spohn Ranch.

""This provides an opportunity for a win-win for the town for a central location of the skate park and allows the rescue squad to expand,"" Williams said. ""We'll plot out a preliminary design for the park and move forward to final construction. … We're excited to move forward.""

Most council members said they were pleased to be finished with deliberations.

""This has been a long time coming,"" Councilwoman Katie Sheldon Hammler said. ""It has turned into a complicated issue with a lot of variables.""

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