Turlock skate park relocation gets OK from commission

mrowland@modbee.comJuly 10, 2013 

MR Skate Park 1

Turlock resident Jason Rodriguez, 16, performs a trick on his bike at the Turlock skate park as Raymond Alvarez, 12, looks on Wednesday evening (07-10-13). The park commission voted to recommend to move the park, which is currently at Starr Avenue, to Donnelly Park. The land where the park is now is being sold to TID.

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— Turlock's skate park is one step closer to moving to Donnelly Park.

The Turlock Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission voted unanimously to recommend the relocation, which comes as the city is in talks to sell the property where the park sits to the Turlock Irrigation District.

More than a dozen members of the public came out to address the move during the commission's meeting Wednesday night. Most were in favor of the change, particularly the promise of a new and upgraded skate park.

But concerns were raised about safety and transportation at the new site.

"Skate parks have obviously made a lot of improvements over the years," said Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Manager Allison Van Guilder. "We think there's a great opportunity to design a skate park that flows much better with its surrounding property here."

The move must now be voted on by the Turlock City Council. Discussion on the item is planned for its Aug. 13 meeting. If approved, construction could begin as early as November with a scheduled April 2014 opening date.

The existing skate park at 250 Starr Avenue was opened in 2004. It was renamed the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park this April in honor of a Turlock skateboarder who died of cancer. The skate park would retain Koch's name and plaques in the new location, as well as a memorial bench dedicated to another former skater.

The city and the TID have been in closed-session meetings in the past few months discussing the potential sale of the Turlock Police Department property, which houses the skate park. With the department's move to the new Turlock Public Safety Facility, the land is no longer needed.

Profits from the sale will be used to help fund the new skate park. The original park cost about $200,000.

A budget has yet to be set for the new park, but a design committee was formed at the meeting consisting of commissioner Brent Boh-lender and more than half a dozen members of the community — many of whom spoke Wednesday night during public comment.

Koch's aunt Judith Suliman, who spearheaded the effort to rename the park, was in favor of the move.

"I have absolutely no problem with it being moved, none whatsoever," she said. "Brandon would be all for a new, updated skate park."

Others raised concerns about traffic safety and transportation to Donnelly Park. City officials said they would look into creating a bus route from the old park to the new one.

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/turlocknow.

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