By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
The latest proposal to regulate hours for Montclair’s temporary skate park would have it open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, year-round.
The hours have been 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
At a Township Council meeting Tuesday, Councilwoman Robin Schlager made the amendment to an ordinance the council first introduced in April to adjust the hours, to address complaints of neighbors whose backyards abut the two Rand Park tennis courts where the temporary skate park has been located for more than a year.
“This was a compromise reached by all parties,” Schlager said about meeting with both skaters and neighbors last week.
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Under the ordinance introduced in April, from October through May the hours would have been 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. From June through September, the hours would have been 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
But that ordinance, which had full council approval in April, was tabled on a motion May 4 by its author, Councilman Peter Yacobellis, to allow for more discussion between skaters and the park’s neighbors. While neighbors sought fewer hours, skaters and Skate Essex club officials pointed to the fact that the new hours didn’t mirror other municipal park hours.
According to current township code, parks are closed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while Carey’s Woods in Nishuane Park, the Mountainside Nature Center trail and the Alonzo F. Bonsal Wildlife Preserve close at sundown.
During the back-and-forth, the township briefly started locking the park from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., skaters and neighbors said. But Since May 4, the park has been open 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. to be consistent with the other parks, until a final decision on hours is made.
Yacobellis said that the skaters are asking that the gates be locked again after two pieces of equipment were recently stolen from the park.
On May 18, council members voted unanimously for the amendment to have the park open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, year-round. A second reading will be held on June 1. The new hours would be implemented 20 days after.
Although neighbors were somewhat relieved about the earlier proposal to reduce hours from 84 hours a week to 76 a week during the summer, they said it did not address bigger issues in that Rand was only to be a temporary home for the skate park, and that the township had done no noise mitigation.
In April, Skate Essex did its own noise mitigation. At a cost of $400, the group placed rubber liners underneath the metal transition pieces and foam insulation inside the wooden ramps, and closed the back of the ramps with additional wood.
Schlager said she thought the hours proposed in April were a good idea at first, but agreed more discussion was needed. At the May 4 meeting, she also suggested that the township discuss providing noise mitigation such as placing insulation on the fencing surrounding the courts to muffle the noise.