UPDATE: Commissioner Jim Bensman reported in his weekly e-mail that Art Sabates decided to withdraw his donation. Town Manager Anthony Roberts said Sabates did not agree with the town on its safety policy for the park. See the full story in the Dec. 31 edition of The Herald Weekly.
CORNELIUS – A Cornelius man made the town board an offer it couldn’t quite refuse Monday night, Dec. 20.
Art Sabates, owner of Shops on the Green shopping center off Torrence Chapel Road, approached the town’s Parks, Art, Recreation and Culture Department and offered to essentially donate the Boardroom Skate Park to the town.
“These are kids that are very gifted,” Sabates told the board, “but they are also very neglected in the fact that they are not given a place to practice their sport. It touches a segment of the population that nothing else touches.”
Sabates asked the town to accept the donation before the end of 2010, for tax purposes, and said if the donation was not accepted, he would close the park and rent the space instead. This time-sensitive element forced the commissioners to make a decision at the year’s last meeting, with insufficient information.
The parks and recreation department board has discussed taking on the skate park for some time, but the members could not reach a consensus.
“When we were pressed into a vote, four of us said no and the rest asked for more information,” said Del Arrendale, a parks and recreation department board member. “I, in good faith, can’t recommend it because I don’t think that the town understands the full cost.”
But another parka and recreation commissioner, Tedd Duncan, said, “I truly believe this is a great opportunity. It is an experiment.”
The town board was not comfortable taking the donation as an agreement to run the skate park.
As a compromise, the board decided to accept the donation of the equipment — the skate ramps, the audio system and the surveillance system. The PARC Department and PARC board will work out a business plan for the skate park with the option to terminate the agreement if it’s too costly.
In the meantime, Sabates will continue to operate the business for up to 90 days.
Town Attorney Bill Brown said the town could accept the donation without agreeing to run the skate park.
“It’s very important to me that you have this park open,” Sabates said. “I understand that if you choose to close it after 90 days that’s your decision to do so, but I would really hope that wouldn’t happen.”
The board voted to accept the donation, 4-0, as Commissioner Lynette Rinker was absent.
At the meeting Monday night, the board also:
• Made an amended operating budget ordinance, which will give the town the authority to charge and accept the fees collected from the new sign ordinance. The sign ordinance, which the board approved in November, goes into effect at the start of the year, and it includes a $50 fee for displaying a temporary banner.
• Accepted the first three phases of the Navigate Cornelius, a piece of the town’s master plan.