Council unanimous in its support for indoor park on Blackmarsh Road
Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Tilley speaks Monday on the reasons why he voted to approve a business proposal by Rob Yetman, owner of Turndown BMX Inc., for an indoor skate park at 77 Blackmarsh Rd. in St. John’s. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
St. John’s city council unanimously approved an indoor skateboard and BMX bike park Monday, despite objections by nearby residents.
The park and retail space proposed for 77 Blackmarsh Rd. by Turndown BMX Inc. was met with opposition when it came before council a few weeks ago.
Although there were 10 letters of objection — as well as a 21-name petition — against the indoor park, there were also 23 letters applauding the business.
Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay noted the building which will house the park is in a commercial/industrial zone, which allows council to approve the park at its discretion.
He also noted the business owner, Rob Yetman, operates a similar park on Waterford Bridge Road, which, to his knowledge, hasn’t generated a single complaint from people who live nearby.
Galgay said the people who objected were invited to visit the Waterford Bridge Road site as a way to alleviate fears around such things as noise, drug use and vandalism.
“I don’t want to minimize the concerns of people,” he said. “(But) that was an unfair labelling of (Yetman’s) particular clientele.”
Galgay said Yetman has also said he will continue to meet with local residents near the Blackmarsh Road site to address any future concerns.
“I don’t want to minimize the concerns of people. (But) that was an unfair labelling of (Yetman’s) particular clientele.” Frank Galgay
Ward 3 Coun. Bruce Tilley, who represents the area where the new park will go, said he visited the site.
“I’m convinced that this is a good location for this business, “ he said.
Coun. Tom Hann said he also supported the business directed at providing recreation to young people.
“Youth have it hard enough to find supervised activities,” he said. “The unfortunate thing is, this sport tends to be mislabelled and sometimes the image that’s created is not reality.”
Hann said as a responsible business owner and operator, it would be up to Yetman to make sure the business is safe, supervised and doesn’t interfere with neighbours.
Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary noted the business already has a good track record.
“It was kind of distasteful to me (to hear) the discrimination of youth that was inherent in some of the comments that came out (objecting to the park,)” she said.
“The bottom line is, we need to be supporting more recreation for youth,” she added. ”We know diabetes is on the rise, we know that (childhood) obesity is on the rise in the community.”