Group says Kofu skate park in need for a major overhaul

·3 min read

Sep. 23—For the second time in four months, members of Lodi's skateboarding community urged city leaders to allocate funding to the Kofu Park skate park this week

Speaking during the public comment segment of Wednesday night's Lodi City Council meeting, several skateboarding teens and adults said the boards, ramps and pipes that were either repaired or replaced since they last spoke to the council in May have already broken or fallen apart.

Chelsea Taylor, who addressed the council in May, said the recent round of needed repairs "hurt the heart," given the number of other city amenities and facilities that were awarded funding on Wednesday night's consent calendar.

"There's only one place that we're allowed to skate, and it's at Kofu Park," she said. "And it would be greatly appreciated if it was maintained so we could use it and not have to find other little random spots to skate or sneak around, or quite frankly, worry about being harassed by the police or other people who straight up don't like it."

In May, Taylor and other skateboarders pleaded with the city to consider funding for lights, open restrooms and overall improvements to the existing structures at the skate park.

City Manager Steve Schwabauer told the group at the time that some repairs would be made over the summer, including installing additional steel to the structures that were falling under the weight of bicycles, scooters and skateboards.

But on Wednesday night, the group said it wasn't enough.

Pat Byron presented a report to the council that stated pre-fabricated skate parks were no longer acceptable among cities, as they typically have shorter life expectancies, design constraints and high maintenance costs, among other disadvantages.

Byron noted the city recently allocated some $9.5 million to the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department.

Given that the city chose to fund art installations on Turner Road at both the Interstate 5 and Highway 99 interchanges, Byron said there should be enough money for a new skate park.

He added the City of Rio Vista installed a new facility for $500,000, and estimated Lodi could spend $1.5 million for a state-of-the-art park.

"None of these (art installations) are going to keep these young people out of trouble," he said. "None of these things are going to be a significant draw of something new and something unique that can bring people to our city and help generate economic growth."

The Kofu Park facility was built and installed by Spohn Ranch, a Los Angeles-based company that designs and builds skate parks across the country. Lodi's skate park was completed in 2002 at a cost of $540,000.

Aaron Spears said a brand new skate park could bring professional skateboarders to Lodi and give the city some exposure in a growing and increasingly more acceptable sport.

"I've seen the small repairs at the park — a panel here, a panel there — but it needs something fresh," Spears said. "It needs a brand new outlook. We can't just do the same humdrum thing over and over. We have to have something that's unique to us, something that can bring people to this town."

The skate park is located in City Councilman Doug Kuehne's district, and he said he loved the passion and organization Wednesday's speakers had for the 20-year-old facility.

He said Byron's $1.5 million estimate for a new park was "a big ask," and repairs were not, and suggested the city and skate park advocates could make a reasonable compromise.

"If you have the comment card that you submitted, and if you have phone numbers on there, I will do my best to follow up with our public works department and our parks department, and see what the potential next steps are," he told the speakers.