skate park

The Cloverdale City Council instructed city staff last week to bring back the conceptual design for the pending Thyme Square skate park. The design was up for discussion and approval during the Jan. 22 city council meeting, but the majority of the council felt that the city needed to do more collaboration and outreach with the Cloverdale Unified School District to address concerns voiced by the district about the location for the skate park.

Councilmembers Mary Ann Brigham and Marta Cruz recused themselves during this discussion item, since they both have properties near Thyme Square.

“This design really reflects the input from two separate workshops that we had with the assistance of the design team at Spohn Ranch, the city’s consultants. It also takes into account the odd shape of the parcel, the easements that go across the parcel and the size of the lot,” said Assistant City Manager and Community Development Director Kevin Thompson when introducing the conceptual design to the city council. “I think that the ultimate design ended up with a lot of the features that were asked for during the workshop.”

Specific skate park elements in the conceptual design include: a manual pad with grind rail; grind ledge; a bank extension handrail; steps and step up gap; a curb spine grind ledge; and a transition section.

The preliminary cost estimate for the park is $428,255.

When discussing the design of the skate park, one of the more prominent issues mentioned is the school board’s hesitation to agree with the location of the skate park.

The skate park, while always identified as being part of Thyme Square, has moved locations since the design’s inception. More recently, the park was moved to a parcel that’s adjacent to the south side of Washington Middle School, which will soon be the home of a new gymnasium for the school.

During a Nov. 13 meeting between the city council and the school board, the school board voiced concern over the location of the skate park. Due to the previously voiced concern, the council asked City Manager David Kelley if any more outreach has been done since the November meeting.

“Staff at this point has not done additional consultation with either the Citrus Fair or the school board,” Kelley said. “That is something that I think this council, as part of the joint (city council and school board) workshop, discussed. One of the elements that was part of that conversation were a lot of the finer design elements that we don’t have at this point, relative to the issues of fencing, lighting, how the adjacency with the skate park would tie in to the plans for the improvements that are proposed at the middle school.”

“The location, as far as I’m concerned, is fine,” Mayor Gus Wolter said. “I hear the concerns from the school board and the school district — the bottom line is nobody wants it in their neighborhood. I understand that because of  the new gymnasium, that it wouldn’t probably blend properly with the school property. By the same token, we’ve been working with this skate board park for quite awhile. We’ve all agreed that this was going to be the location.”

“I want to make it very clear — the school board supports the skate park,” said CUSD trustee Todd Lands during public comment. “This is not about a ‘not in my neighborhood’ thing in any way and we have been in support of it since 2008. I’ve been on the board since 2012, have been a part of the board since 2009 and have not been invited to a single discussion, including the ones after our joint workshop that we had here.”

Lands said that by moving the skate park, the city placed it in front of the district’s planned new gym and breezeway. He said that as a result, “it changes the direction that our kids can hang out on the campus itself, because we can’t have any type of public interaction with people with this thing open. We are concerned about that for several reasons.”

Lands affirmed that the district hasn’t been contacted since the joint meeting they had with the city on Nov. 13.

“It was a little concerning and frustrating to me to see this pop up on the agenda without having it brought up to the school,” he said. “I love your idea. It sounds to me that this is cart before the horse. I think that your design is not a problem at all. It’s not that we’re against the skate park. We loved it when it was 40 feet away on the other side of the street.”

Aside from the issue looming between the city and the school district, people who voiced their opinions during public comment were wholly in support of the skate park design.

“We’ve had several workshops, a number of ad hocs, this process in terms of coming up with a conceptual design that worked for our youth had gone through quite an extensive process. We had folks who are adults such as myself all the way down to very little kids — we talked about scooters, we talked about bicycles — effectively, they ran those meetings,” said Shawn Bovee, a vocal proponent of the park who has been involved in its plan for the past 10 to 12 years. “A lot of time did go into talking to the kids and the community about what they wanted, and whether this would suit their needs … I know that it’s imperative that we respect the school board and their opinion of the project and we work together. At this time I certainly don’t want to see us going backward.”

Vice Mayor Jason Turner took time to ask Bovee a series of questions to help gauge the design of the park: Are there enough amenities for individuals who want to skateboard at different levels to enjoy the park? Are there enough amenities for adults that may not “necessarily have the same proficiency or recovery level” should they injure themselves, are those amenities present in this design?

Bovee answered yes to both questions, and emphasized how much work and collaboration has gone into putting the design together.

A younger member of the audience spoke up during public comment, voicing his support and appreciation for the project.

“As a skateboarder and someone who skates all the time, seeing this design is inspirational,” said Keoki Bovee.

When asked how the parks compared to the ones in Windsor or Healdsburg, he said that this design looks “as fun or usable as Healdsburg.”

“As far as I can say from the design, I’d enjoy this park much more than Healdsburg. It has more stuff and it has a wider variety of obstacles to choose from instead of just one sort of style that you skateboard,” he said.

Monique Hernandez spoke on behalf of herself, as well as on behalf of a group of people from roller derby.

“There’s hundreds of people waiting to utilize this from that sect,” she said, listing the county’s different roller derby teams. “We have so many different organizations that are watching this with bated breath, that they’re hoping this is happening.”

Numerous comments were made about how the skate park would be an attraction that would pull people in from out of town who may be looking to use a new, or closer park.

While there was wide support for the design of the project from both the public and the council, the city council was hesitant to approve the design, since it may have to change should they change the location of the park.

In an effort to bridge the communication gap between the city and school district, Wolter directed city staff to assign the topic to the joint city and school subcommittee with specific direction to address the issue within the next month. The subcommittee meeting is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 24.

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