Skate park closes down
Medical Lake City Council decision stems from last year's string of criminal activity
By JAMES EIK
Medical Lake's skate park will permanently close following a unanimous vote from the Medical Lake City Council at its Tuesday, Aug. 21 meeting.
The skate park was closed for the remainder of the summer season last year, stemming from a string of vandalism incidents throughout last summer that included graffiti tagging, spreading of human waste on bathroom walls and racial slurs spray-painted on ramps. Drug dealing was also reported in the park last summer.
Compared to last year, similar instances have all but vanished, save for the occasional event.
“Talking with deputies, crime dropped when we closed the skate park,” City Administrator Doug Ross said.
Ross was public works director with the city when the park was constructed in 2003.
“It would be a tougher decision if it didn't drop,” he said, regarding the crime.
Councilman Jeff King asked about two high school students who petitioned the City Council earlier in the year with a plan to revive the park. Mayor John Higgins said they had plans to police their peers in an effort to reduce criminal activity. They were also asked to go to surrounding homeowners and ask their permission to reopen the park, but the task never saw completion.
Discussions will continue in the near future regarding what to do with the ramps, railings and other elements located at the park. Councilwoman Brenda Redell hoped to see if there was a way to receive revenue from sale of the equipment.
The City Council also accepted a proposal for high speed wireless Internet service in the city from Cascade Computing, a Spokane-based company founded in 2009. Marcus Munn, owner of Cascade Computing, said the service would cover most of the city, all the way down to Silver Lake. The company is working to expand opportunities for high speed Internet in rural communities within Spokane and Lincoln counties. A total of three antennas would be placed in the city, all fitting on one steel pole.
CenturyLink is the only other high speed Internet provider within city limits.
With the new technology, the city could connect its maintenance and wastewater treatment plant on a network with City Hall. Ross will work with the company to create a contract in the near future.
Between council meetings, the city saw a number of fires, the one garnering most attention burned approximately 14 acres of old dairy farm land near Brooks Road and North Lefevre Street. Fire Chief Jeff Estes said hot spots flared up for a few days following the Aug. 7 blaze. The fire burned down 3 to 4 feet deep in the soil, which mainly consisted of old manure. Firefighters from surrounding districts answered calls, helping to stop the fire in its tracks, mere feet before some homes.
“I heard how well everything was coordinated,” Councilman Art Kulibert said.
Other additional structure fires took place in the following weeks.
In the city's Fire Department, Corey Stevens was promoted to captain, and Matthew Eaton was appointed as the newest member.
Also at the City Council meeting, Founder's Day organizer Bob Kibling and outgoing finance director Pam McBroom were honored for their service to the city. Kibling is stepping down from running the annual event, while McBroom will spend time with family in her retirement.
The city's wastewater treatment plant crew was also honored for the second year in a row, meeting all of the Department of Ecology's requirements in 2011.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.