Almost as if by accident, a request for funds for a skateboard park, zoomed through Orem's City Council Tuesday night.
The council appropriated $60,000 in community development block grant money toward the park, which will probably be located in the area between the City Center and the Senior Citizen Building in City Center Park.That came after some serious haggling over funding toward a number of public service projects.
Several programs and agencies did not get the funding they had hoped for.
However, by law the amount of CDBG funds that can be spent on public service is limited. The money appropriated toward the skate park is from another dispersement area as is the $200,000 earmarked for Orem's share in building a facility for the Mountainlands Association of Governments.
The council decided to use $210,000 originally set aside for building a convention center and conference facility for the skate park and the Mountainlands building. City manager Jim Reams told the council he did not see a need for the convention center money within the next six months.
He said that money would be reallocated next year if it became apparent the city would need the funds as planned.
In the meantime, about 80 skaters who appealed to the city's recreation advisory board recently ought to be jubilant at receiving the funding for a park.
Earlier, recreation director Jerry Ortiz said he felt there is a critical need for such a park.
Reams said everywhere skaters go in the city they're told not to skate and are, in fact, chased out.
City Councilman Bill Peperone said there's a cross section of youths not interested in the traditional sports who would benefit from such a facility.
The council also made changes in the dispersal of the CDBG public service funds, deleting $3,000 set aside to pay for smoke detectors for low-income households.
Mayor Joe Nelson said there are other places to go for funds for smoke detectors and suggested the $3,000 be split up to give more money to the Family Literacy program and to Kids on the Move early intervention.
He also asked that the proposed $10,000 for The Gathering Place be cut in half.
Other council members disagreed and maintained the $10,000 allotment for The Gathering Place, arguing that The Gathering Place is the only recipient program set up to help drug and alcohol abusers.
Councilman David Palfreyman lobbied to get more money for the Parent Education and Resource Center, taking $2,000 from the amount tabbed for the Community Action Agency to give to the resource center program.
Ortiz said not enough was allocated to the low and moderate income recreation need, $2,150 out of a requested $30,000. He said the low amount would not penetrate the need for such assistance.
Dennis Hansen, director of The Gathering Place, said every dollar spent battling substance abuse saves the taxpayer $11. "The most expensive thing to do (in the fight against drug abuse) is nothing," he said.
Lynn Brown, for Mountainlands Head Start, said they hope to show Orem they ought to get a bigger grant next year. They received $5,000 of a requested $58,000.
Tama King, chairman for the Citizens CDBG Advisory Committee, told the mayor and council she felt the council should abide by the committee's recommendations.
"I think it's really important to go by the committee's recommendations," she said, suggesting the council was buckling to pressure from unhappy recipients.
"You understand we have the right to do that (go against the recommendations)?" said Nelson.
Palfreyman said he was not contacted by anyone to push for more Parent Education and Resource Center.
Councilman Mike Thompson said he is personally against accepting any federal funds but that the citizenry he's talked with want the city to take the money.