The Issue: Dogwood Skateboard Park

Background Information & Outcome

The Legislation: Ordinance No. 15-02. An ordinance authorizing the Board of Control of the City of North Canton, through the Director of Administration, to advertise and receive bids according to specifications now on file in the office of the Director of Administration and the Mayor to enter into a contract for the installation of a skateboard park and declaring the same to be an emergency.

The legislation was discussed by the Park & Recreation Committee and council and referred out of committee for legislation on January 22, 2002. When this issue was first discussed for legislation, the Chairman of the Parks & Recreation Committee was not specific on the exact location of the proposed skateboard park.

The uncertainty of where the skateboard park would actually be located is revealed in a brief mention of the proposed Skateboard Park legislation on January 23, 2002, in this Canton Repository article: “Water rates flood N. Canton agenda.”

The Outcome: The legislation was read once at a council meeting on January 28, 2002 with a request that it be passed on an emergency. Passage of legislation on an emergency requires six votes and allows legislation to take effect immediately upon its approval by the mayor.

In the only reading of the legislation, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Foltz, Kiesling, Lindower, Magel, McLaughlin, Osborne and Snyder
No: 0

A second vote was taken by council to suspend the rules requiring the legislation be read at three different, regular Council meetings. In the vote to suspend the rules for this legislation, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Lindower, Magel, McLaughlin, Osborne, Snyder, Foltz and Kiesling
No: 0

A third vote to adopt the legislation under the suspension of the rules was taken. In the vote to adopt the legislation under the suspension of the rules, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Snyder, Foltz, Kiesling, Lindower, Magel and McLaughlin
No: 0

There was no mention of the passage of the skateboard park legislation in this Canton Repository article published the next day: “N. Canton Council discusses water plant, purchases trucks.” However, the Akron Beacon Journal reported the funding approval for the skateboard park in this January 29, 2002 article: “North Canton OKs funds for skate park.”

At the council meeting of March 11, 2002, Mayor Tom Rice requested that council take a poll to see if there was continued support from council to locate the skateboard park in the tennis courts at Dogwood Park.

Mayor Rice's request followed my letter to the mayor requesting careful consideration of the wishes of residents living in the neighborhood surrounding Dogwood Park along with signatures of 142 petitioners who opposed the Dogwood Park location.

In the poll to support the location of the skateboard park at Dogwood Park tennis courts and the emergency funding of it, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Foltz, Kiesling, Lindower, Magel, McLaughlin and Snyder
No: Osborne

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My Position and Rationale

My Position: I was opposed to locating the skateboard park in Dogwood Park and converting a tennis court into a skateboard park. I was not opposed to the expenditure of $35,000 for the purchase of the skateboard park equipment.

  • I believe that Dogwood Park is overbuilt and that the addition of a skate park will add to the congestion that already exists in the area.
Dogwood Park has a very a large number of recreational facilities concentrated in a small area. These include the swimming pool; ball fields used for little league and organized baseball, softball, and tee ball events; picnic facilities; playground facilities; a rental hall used for family and business gatherings; and basketball and tennis courts.

In a door-to-door canvas of the residents in the Dogwood Park area (Dogwood Avenue, 10th, 7th, 6th and 5th Streets), nearly all complained about the increased automobile traffic in the summer and more difficulty finding parking near their homes.

The emergency squad stationed nearby and Hoover High School generate even more traffic in the Dogwood Park area. Hoover High School traffic must travel through neighborhoods surrounding Dogwood Park to get to the high school because there is no access to the school from the north.

  • Many nearby residents opposed building a skateboard park at Dogwood Park.

A total of 142 people signed a petition (view copy of petition form) opposing the location of the skateboard facility in Dogwood Park.

I reported the opposition of the neighborhood to the Dogwood Park location in a memo to City Council’s Park & Recreation Committee  dated February 19, 2002.

  • Choosing a location other than Dogwood Park for a skateboard park  could  have numerous advantages.

Selecting a location with ample room for the current design and future expansion would allow the city to plan a more ideal skateboard facility from the ground up.

Skating trails and bicycle jumps could be planned in conjunction with a skateboard park at this location. In-line skating trails could be added near of the skateboard facility, which would appeal to a wider range of skaters.

The area could also include bicycle jumps. All of these activities are similar in that they require a lot of open space for enjoyment as well as safety.

A new location could be located that has ample room for parking.

A location could be found that is well-removed from roadways and far enough from homes so that the tranquility of all neighborhoods in the city is maintained.

I believe the city should look closely at locating the skateboard park near the ball fields on East Maple Street. This location is removed from residential neighborhoods and automobile traffic, and appears to have plenty of space to combine skateboarding, inline skate trails and jumps for bikes.

  • I do not believe that it is fair to replace one recreational facility that is used and enjoyed by a wide range of citizens, including older citizens, with another recreational facility used primarily by young boys for a high-risk activity.

The skateboard park would require the loss of two popular Dogwood Park tennis courts, both in good condition and lighted.

Mr. Carl Gooding, a resident spoke out against the loss of the Dogwood Park tennis courts at a February 11, 2002 council meeting. Prior to the council meeting, Mr. Goodin had written a letter to council expressing his concerns with the loss of the tennis courts at Dogwood Park. Mr. Goodin ended his letter with the following: “TENNIS IS A GAME FOR A LIFETIME! I don’t know about skateboarding.”

A couple city officials recommended that residents use the high school tennis courts. However, the schools utilize their own courts. North Canton City Schools Superintendent Thomas Shoup reveals in a letter that the girls use the courts in the fall and the boys use the courts in the spring. The physical education classes use the courts in both the fall and spring. In fact, the schools use their own courts as well as Dogwood's tennis courts during times of simultaneous tournaments. Furthermore, Dogwood's tennis courts are lighted while the high school courts are not.

  • I do not believe that this piece of legislation should have been passed on an emergency with a suspension of the rules.

When legislation is passed on an emergency, it is read, voted on, and passed before anyone knows what took place.

When legislation is rushed through council in this manner, Council members to not have enough time to research the issues. Furthermore, residents are deprived of the opportunity to offer their opinions, and council members are deprived of the opportunity to hear residents' input. Legislation for a recreational facility in a city park would have been an issue where public input both pro and con would have been especially valuable to the legislative decision-making process.

Because this legislation was passed on an emergency, council members voted before basic research on the issue could be undertaken. The city had no time to assess the true level of interest among residents for skateboarding and a skateboard park site. There was no time to collect information about similar parks around the state or to understand the insurance and liability implications of a city-owned and operated skateboard park.

Until the time the city moved ahead with its own skateboard park, I proposed that the City of North Canton subsidize passes for North Canton residents to any commercial skateboard facility in the area. 

This would have allowed the city more time to study how North Canton should proceed in building the best possible skateboard park, more time to address the concerns of residents living near Dogwood Park, and more time to save the much-enjoyed Dogwood Park tennis courts.

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Research, Documentation, & Press Coverage



Press Coverage

Canton Repository

Beacon Journal:

  • North Canton OKs funds for skate park (January 29, 2002)

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