LONG BEACH - The Long Beach City Council agenda for Feb. 15 contained a bit of everything, ranging from an emergency declaration and public hearing to skateboarding and an arch.
The meeting opened with a continuation of the public hearing on vacating of a portion of 9th St. SW. The subject was carried over from the previous meeting to give city staff an opportunity to add language to the ordinance stipulating that the right of way will revert to the city if the proposed resort project fails. Currently, Trendwest is interested in building a resort in that area. The attending public, consisting of a crowd of one, declined comment and the street vacation was approved.
"I think it will be good for the businesses downtown and the community," said Mayor Ken Ramsey.
The council also formally approved an emergency declaration as a result of damage at the Dohman Impoundment, the dam which stores the city's main water supply, damaged during recent rainstorms. The declaration allows city staff to seek emergency funding for the repair and allows a shortened bidding process.
City Administrator Robert Strope told the council alternate water supplies are adequate for current demands, and anticipates the repairs will be completed in mid-April, in time for the tourist season.
Most discussion, however, was generated by a youthful sporting pastime, skateboarding. Police Chief Flint Wright told the council the department has been receiving a disproportionate number of complaints about activity in the skateboard park on Washington Street, including the use of foul language and vandalism.
"It's an issue for people [living] on 2nd Street," said City Finance Director David Glasson. Some families have stopped using the adjacent playground because of the problems, not wanting to expose their young children to the inappropriate behavior and swearing.
"It's a sad situation," said council member Fred Cook.
The skateboard account, originally established to help fund the park's construction, still has some money in it, and it was suggested perhaps that money be used to move the park.
Wright said, as with any group, it is a small number of individuals who are responsible for most of the trouble, ruining the experience for the majority. And a solution may have been found.
The city is proposing to build a fence around the park with a locked gate. When complaints occur, the park will be closed for a time, keeping skateboarders out. The hope is skateboard park users will begin to monitor themselves to prevent the park from being locked. The city is now receiving estimates on the cost of erecting the fence.
There was good news as well. Glassen reported the city has received a grant of $29,000 from the Templin Foundation to replace the fire department's 30-year-old air compressor. The compressor is used to fill the oxygen tanks firefighters carry. The current compressor needs $6,000 worth of repairs and maintenance, and can only fill one tank at a time. The new one will not only have additional safety features, but will be able to fill two tanks at the same time.
Cook was particularly pleased by the Templin Foundation's continued generosity. "We're a blessed community to have something like that stand behind us," he said.
In other action, the council also established fee structures for adult businesses. To open, the business would be required to pay $1,000 for a business license, $400 for an adult entertainment manager's license, $400 for each adult entertainer's license, $400 for an adult arcade manager's license, and $50 for each adult arcade device.
"Thanks for your work on this," council member Ralph Moore told city staff. "It is protecting the community regardless of what was first thought."
There was good news as well. Strope told the council they have received estimates on repairing the Long Beach arch, which fell last summer during an incident involving a delivery truck. Strope said he had been in contact with the insurance company and "The check is in the mail." The city is still considering whether the arch should be moved and increased in size and height, to hopefully prevent another mishap.