Amidst several other park improvement projects such as improving park lighting and ADA accessibility on city streets, the Cotati City Council held a discussion to consider the installation of a skate park following Rohnert Park’s own efforts to try and establish a park this past summer.
While city council did not pass any ordinance, yet regarding the installation of a park, they did agree to work on and research the possibility of a skate park and agreed to include the topic in the city’s Park Master Plan, which is currently being worked on by City Manager, Damien O’Bid and is to be updated in January of 2018.
The need to address the option of a skate park came to this week’s meeting after several other city council members suggested in an early August meeting that the council should once again entertain the idea, one that had to be put on hold in 2008 during the recession.
According to O’Bid, the city previously expressed desires to create a skate park behind the Civic Center on E School Street and the park idea was then part of the Civic Center Master Plan.
“A skate park element was proposed to be behind our police station and there were elements (of the Civic Center Master Plan which erected the police station and upgraded city hall) that were implemented but the recession happened and the rest is history,” O’Bid explained as to why the installation of a skate park has been put on a long hold.
After the Civic Center was built, a temporary wooden movable skate park was placed in a local basketball court made by volunteers, however, kids and parents of skaters say they would like to see a more permanent and usable option for skater enthusiasts, considering Cotati is one of the few cities in Sonoma County without a skate park.
Currently, there are skate parks built for youth in Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Healdsburg.
One young skate board enthusiast and Cotati resident voiced his opinion on the consideration of a skate park, saying a park would be helpful for skateboarders as there isn’t really any place for them to skate.
“I think a skate park that would be in Cotati would very much help because I know there has been some complaints about skateboarders outside of businesses, so a skate park would be very useful for people who don’t like to skate outside,” the enthusiast said.
One Cotati parent also supported the idea, as her teenage son doesn’t have a safe place to skate and must resort to skating behind downtown businesses a prospect that worries her as she doesn’t want him near the downtown bar scene and wants him in a safer place dedicated for skating.
“My oldest son goes to Tech High and has straight A’s, so I was really shocked to be woken up by my son who said the police are here and the Cotati Police Department Corporal brought my son home and my son was skateboarding here downtown and it wasn’t an appropriate place and I completely agreed with the officer and he was concerned with my son’s safety. So, we questioned him on alternatives on where he could be and there really are no alternatives,” she said.
While another Cotati resident, George Barich is in support of a skate park, he voiced the fact that perhaps before considering a costly project such as a park, the need to update old city roads should be addressed.
“I have been a proponent of skateboard parks myself… but we are looking at a city now that rates most of the conditions of our streets from a poor D, to an F failure and it will have to come to the council on deciding priorities, whether we want decent and safe streets over a skateboard park,” Barich said.
However, city council members seem to support the idea, and Council member Wendy Skillman said she likes the idea because it can create a nice community feeling amongst those who like the skateboard.
“It is nice community feeling you get when they come together and it is also good exercise and I think this is a great idea and I support it,” Skillman said of the consideration of the park.
While there are no concrete details on how the skate park could be funded, O’Bid did say that often skate parks can be built from community fundraisers, donations and grants, which could be helpful for a future park.
Other public works projects the city is currently working on that do address improving the safety of streets, includes a street rehab project for East Cotati Street, which is expected to be completed in the spring of 2020 and a park lighting project already in the works. According to the project summary, the street project will work on repaving portions of the road and work on creating more ADA accessible sidewalk ramps.
As described in the summary, the project aims to, “Repave East Cotati Avenue from the east side of the SMART railroad tracks easterly to the city limits, to landscape the existing median, to update traffic signs and to repair and restore to ADA compliance various cracked and lifted sections of tree root damaged sidewalk.”
One of the other safety improvement projects the Department of Public Works is working on, is a school path for children who walk between West School Street and the School Street Tunnel to Thomas Page Elementary School.