The possibility of creating a skate park may be on the horizon for Rohnert Park, as the latest Parks and Rec meeting discussed the early stages of devising a budget, and tasked Director of Public Works, John McArthur to take the lead on the project and scout out potential locations after city council gave an action item to plan the park.
According to McArthur, in April of 2008 a Parks and Rec master plan was assembled after asking residents what new improvements and parks they would like to see and a skate park was number one on the list.
“It’s been talked about over the years since when I got here in 2008 and citizens are pushing for it,” McArthur said. “With the park system we have a baseball, soccer field and gym, but we’re the only city and county, except Cotati, that doesn’t have a skate park.”
The concept of the skate-park is also part of Rohnert Park’s “Capital Improvement Program” and budget, which according to the 2014 draft of the program, is a “multi-year planning tool to coordinate the financing and scheduling of major projects.”
McArthur said that as of now there is no funding for the skate-park project, however, he will spearhead the task of searching for budget friendly options for the park.
“The park status is that it could be a million- dollar concrete structure or a landscaping prefab structure that you can put on top of asphalt,” McArthur said.
In designing and planning the potential facade and look of a skate park, Nick Balderas, a project manager at Spohn Ranch Skate Park, (a California skate-park building company) said the city council and parks and rec team of a town must decide on what type of park they want (prefab or concrete) before approaching the design process.
“The normal process once a city decides on a skate park is we’ll get some preliminary designs of what it could look like… We give a CAD rendering (a 3D concept image) of what it will look like when it is completed. Then we have a town hall meeting with local skaters and parks and rec to make a decision that will cater to local skaters,” Balderas said.
Balderas also said that when building skate-parks for cities, he also likes to take into consideration what the local skaters would like to see in the design.
“Then we ask preference (of local skaters), will it be street style with benches or ledges… or bowl style like a backyard pool? We find the design that local skaters want and we put it together,” Balderas said during his phone interview.
While the plan is only in the early stages of brainstorming costs and locations for the park, McArthur said for the next few months and in September, he will be looking at different construction and design options.
“What would happen is I would give them (parks and rec and city council) a menu of options, then we can see if the funding is there, or if it’s in next year’s budget,” he said.
This menu of options would also include various options of where to build the park, which would either be on city property, or parks and rec owned property, according to McArthur.
“If we were to build a big one we would put it where it would be most accessible to our citizens, like maybe near the community center or north or south of the expressway and we wouldn’t bury it in the wood, we would put it somewhere to guard against vandalism,” McArthur said.
When asked what other elements McArthur will have to take into consideration when planning the park, he said neighborhood impact and safety are at the forefront of his list.
“We want something out in the open and not deep in a park and we don’t want to create a place where gang members congregate and hide, we want a place where kids can get to it safely,” McArthur said.
Kandis Gilmore, a staff member at Sonoma State University, said she sees a lot of young people riding their skateboards and bikes off of stairs and rails on campus. According to her, a skate-park would a be a better option for people instead of having to ride on campus, which isn’t the best option.
“I see a lot of teenagers come here and ride and do jumps and flips on bikes and skateboards and it’s not the best place to do that here, so maybe it (a skate-park) would be good for teens and younger people to do,” Gilmore said.
According to McArthur, the decision making process for the park could happen in the space of only a few months, however as of yet there is no approximate time frame for when the park could be completed.