They urge Council to keep skate park open while new one is built.
Nestled in the Santa Clarita Activities Center in Canyon Country is a skate park popular with local youth. The park is one of a very few places they are allowed to skate freely, as the act has been banned in many public areas in Santa Clarita.
In the years of its existence, the park has demonstrated the need for such an establishment, so much so that the City is planning on building a replacement park on the Activities Center grounds that would be three times the size of the current one.
And while that has skateboarders overjoyed, they showed up in force to City Council Chambers Tuesday night to protest the City’s plan to close the existing park while the new one is built.
A massive crowd lined the walls of Council chambers and warned that if the park was closed for an extended period of time, City streets and businesses would bear the brunt of the impact, as skaters would be forced to skate elsewhere. “If you take this park away for more than ten months, these kids are going to run amuck,” said one skater.
This problem stems from the fact that there are no alternatives in the city. “If you close Central Park people can go play soccer at another park,” said one parent. “But if you close this skate park, where do they go?”
The consequences would not just be a nuisance to the town, according to a father of a young skater. He said that the skate park offers him a place to take his child, watch him skate, and ensure he was being safe.
In addressing the skateboarder’s concerns, City Manager Ken Pulskamp first took the opportunity to clear up a few pieces of information. First, he stated that the City’s plans indicate the park would only need to be closed for a period of four months, should construction stay on schedule. He also said that City staff will make efforts to keep the project moving on schedule.
He also said that the park could technically remain open while the new one is built. “It can be done,” he said. “But it can’t be done without tremendously impacting the cost of the project and the project schedule.” He estimated that the additional cost of keeping the park open during construction could run in the neighborhood of $750,000.
Pulskamp went on to explain that the skate park is a part of a larger project which includes building a new gym and sports fields on the site. He said that keeping the skate park open for that temporary time period would delay the other facilities as well. Pulskamp added that the park would not be closed during the summer months.
Councilmember TimBen Boydston asked the City staff to look into alternatives and put an item on the next City Council meeting’s agenda to discuss them. Frank Ferry was blunt about the added costs of the project, and how that would impact the community. “That $750,000 is going to come from somewhere,” he said. He went on to describe that the money used to keep the park open could be pulled from some other project, whether pothole repair or putting lights on the sports fields, and that at some future council meeting people passionate about those projects could be protesting.
After over an hour of public comment and discussion, the City Council voted 4-1 in favor of revisiting the issue one month from now, after a meeting is held between City staff and concerned citizens to try and find a compromise.