Monday, January 14, 2008

Springfield School Board Doing Pretty Good Imitiation Of Pontius Pilate

The SN-L is reporting this morning that the City Council is considering a gift of the land that the Skatepark building sits upon. The article, by reporter Wes Johnson, says, "Springfield Public Schools soon may wash its hands of the Springfield Skatepark flap."

According to information provided by the city's PIO, R-12 owns the land on which the building, parking lot and part of the outdoor facility sit. City/Parks owns the land on which part of the outdoor facility sits. Parks and R-12 have a lease/swap agreement for this land with land Parks owns at Fassnight that R-12 uses for Parkview.

For years, there has been no great need to give up the land or change the way things have been done UNTIL the city decided it wants to take over the Skatepark. Now, this great land shift is afoot.

Someone at the city must be doing some serious arm twisting over at the School Board. The school board is doing a pretty good imitation of Pontius Pilate and refusing to show any grit towards the city.

How many meetings in smoke filled rooms (the rooms probably weren't really smoke filled, I don't think anyone on the current board smokes) took place between the city and the school board? Were they posted? So much for transparency of government.

Consider this sentence in Johnson's story:

Tonight, the Springfield City Council will consider accepting the school district's gift, contingent on the school board actually making the offer. The item is listed on the council's meeting agenda.
Someone in the city is trying to broker a deal and I will bet the Skatepark Association wasn't invited to the meeting!

Appears to me the board could just as easily give the land to the Skatepark Association.

Didn't these people learn anything from the audit?

In fairness to the city and the school board, the article states that the "Skate park property hasn't actually been offered to the city yet." But the whole affair sorta smells like yesterday's garbage.


Jason said...

Jim, why should the Skatepark Association be involved with this? They aren't landowners here. If the R-12 and Park Board want to do a land swap then in reality it's none of the Skatepark Association's business.

I don't have a problem if R-12 wants to donate it to the Skatepark but if they want to do a deal with the Park Board it's OK as well.

And as for the audit reference, as a taxpayer to both the city and the school district I'm glad to see them being stewards of the land. Honestly, donating that land and giving up value that was paid for and maintained through tax dollars to a non-profit group that benefits only a small minority of the city is not a good use of that land.

Busplunge said...

Jason, it appears the land swap was never an issue UNTIL the city decided it wanted to take over the operation of the Skatepark from the non-profit group that built it and is currently running it.

In the last paragraph, you seem to be implying that because the Skatepark is run by a non-profit group and benefits only a small minority of the city (people who use the park) that that is reason enough for the city to take it over.

Using that reasoning, watch out Missouri Hotel, watch out Alzheimer's association, watch out Autism association.

Anonymous said...

Jason, it would seem to me that if you are going to make a decision that affects a group of people, they should be involved in the decision making process.

Jason said...


Do you think a landlord needs to consult tenants before selling their properties or do they have the right to just sell it?


"Using that reasoning, watch out Missouri Hotel, watch out Alzheimer's association, watch out Autism association."

They're leasing space from the city that the city is leasing from the R-12 district?

Busplunge said...

This is more than a landlord/tenant lease disagreement and I think you know that.
This is a question of ethics.
Every reason the city has given for taking over the park has been suspect: first they said too many police calls and then liability implications over the ownership of the land...the city implied they owned the land.
I don't like the fact that if the city wants something they can just waltz right in and take it. Do you remember the Cadillac garage?

VotingMom said it best on the SN-L board: "IF the issue between the Park Board/City and SSA is in fact liability, a simple donation of entire skatepark grounds (by Springfield R-12 and the Park Board) to the non-profit Springfield Skatepark Association would not only resolve liability concerns, but save taxpayers the $60,000(?) annual salary, benefits, and credit card for the new Skate Park "Director" the Park Board is rumored to have already hired. (Wonder who he's related least we know they already have plenty of brand new computers and office furniture available for him!)

IF the Park Board indeed "wrests control" of the Skatepark, taxpayers will likely end up bearing full burden of additional payroll (you know, the pittance they'll pay to people that ACTUALLY work there - as opposed to their new "Director"), liability insurance, maintenance, utilities, and any other operating costs, as well as potential injury claims - now it's a well-known fact The City/Park Board has money to burn.

Alas, another soon-to-be-under-utilized money pit will be born. And this will benefit the City/citizens how? How many times will we have to learn the same lesson about the Park Board and skating facilities in this town?

Skatepark patrons are obviously satisfied with its operation. The Police Department denies the Skatepark is a "trouble" area. There are obvious ways to eliminate ANY liability for the City/taxpayers. Won't someone please find out what this power play is truly about?"

Anonymous said...

I was just at the skatepark where my son was having his 10th bday party. I was talking with one of his friends dad,who had never been there before, about how nice a facility it is (clean,well lit,friendly staff)...Why fix what is not broken?

Anonymous said...

Someone with the obvious intelligence of a Jason really should know more about tenant's rights.

Let's say Jason leased land from a downtown landowner, and built a $1 million hotel on it. Then the landowner decides to swap his land for another piece of land across the Square. If you're a Jason, you'd just shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh well, it's none of my business if the landowner wants to swap his land. I'll just give up my rights to my hotel. In fact, I'll just give it to the landowner! After all, it's his land, and he has the right to do with it as he pleases."

Or would Jason fight to keep the hotel he built? Would he at least insist that the landowner pay him for taking his $1 million hotel? Would Jason have the guts to fight?

I'm betting he would sue so fast it would make your head spin. After he consulted an attorney, of course, who would fill him in about tenant's rights.

Or maybe he could just ask the kid down the street.

Especially if that kid rides a skateboard.

Your head is spinning, Jason. All the way around, like one possessed.

Anonymous said...

Jason, why is it you react to and feel the need to comment on just about everything you know little about -- but you don't answer those posts who ask you questions and challenge your 'thinking' . . . what makes Jason mum?