Turlock City Council approves skate park move

mrowland@modbee.comAugust 13, 2013 

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— Local skaters soon will call Donnelly Park home.

Tuesday night, City Council members unanimously approved moving the skate park from its 250 Starr Ave. location to the 40-acre community park along Hawkeye Avenue. The Police Department property where the skate park now sits is being sold to the Turlock Irrigation District.

But the time line for the relocation likely will be pushed back because a portion of the skate park's original funding came from the California State Parks Department. City officials must go through state parks procedure to get the move approved.

Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Manager Allison Van Guilder had planned for a November closure of the old park and April opening at the new site. She said she does not know what the new time line will be but hopes to still have construction done in a six-month window.

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The city has budgeted $240,000 for the project, which will come from a portion of the sale of the police headquarters property. In September, the city's Police Department and fire administration will move from its Palm Street site to the new downtown Turlock Public Safety Facility.

The new skate park will reuse some of the old site's features but will be redesigned to be more modern and have more amenities. Van Guilder said the city hopes to create an updated park that follows the area's landscape more closely.

About a half-dozen community members spoke out on the skate park move. All those who spoke were excited about relocating and updating the park, but most also expressed concerns about Donnelly Park.

Turlock resident Rachel Kenney, who also spoke at the Turlock Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission meeting on the move last month, said she did not think Donnelly Park was a good fit for the skate park.

"(There are) safety concerns with children crossing the road there. Hawkeye and Geer are both very dangerous roads," she said. "And there has been a lot of crime. There is not as much crime on the east side."

Other issues brought up by community members included the potential loss of skateboards and bikes into the water, transportation difficulties and bird droppings from the many geese and ducks that call Donnelly home.

Kenney suggested Sunnyview Park on Berkeley Avenue as an alternative, but city officials said that, as a smaller neighborhood park and sometimes storm basin, it would not work.

The Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park will retain its name, in honor of a former skater who died of cancer, as well as a memorial bench in memory of another former Turlock skater.

A design committee with city staff, a park commissioner and 10 community members has been formed to work on the new park. Van Guilder said she expects the committee to begin meeting in the next few weeks.

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