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Central Park Gazebo

CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 24


Meeting Date: November 13, 2001

Subject/Title: Update/discussion on skate park

Submitted by: Craig D. Bronzan, Director of Parks and Recreation

Approved by: John E. Stevenson, City Manager

RECOMMENDATION 
Staff will provide an update on the issues that have been raised since the opening of the skate park and requests direction from City Council has to how to proceed.

PREVIOUS ACTION
The Council Park and Recreation Subcommittee held a community meeting on September 16, 1999, to discuss the possibility of building a skate park in Brentwood. The City Council passed Resolution No. 99-225 on October 12, 1999, amending the 1999-2004 Capital Improvement Program to include construction of a skate park in Brentwood (CIP Project No. 522-5213) and directing the Director of Parks and Recreation to return to City Council for the award of the construction contract. The Park and Recreation Commission and Youth Commission held a joint special meeting on October 18, 1999, to consider forming a task force for the development of a skate park. The City Council approved the establishment of a Skate Park Task Force on October 26, 1999. The City Council authorized the City Manager to execute a professional services agreement with Land Image on January 11, 2000, for the design of the City of Brentwood Skate Park. On April 11, 2000, City Council approved the Park and Recreation Commission recommendation to approve the Brentwood Skate Park preliminary site master plan and related budget (CIP Project #522-5213). On September 26, 2000, City Council directed staff to have one additional community meeting with the architect and then put the project out to bid. The final community meeting was held on November 13, 2000, with the project being put out to bid on January 22, 2001. Bids were opened on February 20, 2001. City Council awarded the bid for construction of the Skate Park (CIP No. 522-5213) to A.J. Vasconi General Engineering on February 27, 2001. City Council approved first reading of Ordinance No. 673 regarding the wearing of safety gear at the skate park at the City Council meeting of June 26, 2001 and second reading on July 10, 2001. City Council discussed and approved rules and enforcement procedures at the Skate Park at the City Council meeting on August 14, 2001 directing staff to follow up with a revision of Ordinance No. 673. City Council approved the first reading of Ordinance No. 684 at the City Council meeting of August 28, 2001, with approval of the final reading on September 11, 2001.

BACKGROUND
The Skate Park opened with limited hours on October 20, 2001, with the official dedication on November 3, 2001. For the past number of months, and especially since the opening of the park, staff from the Park and Recreation Department and Police Department have been working together in an attempt to deal with issues and concerns as they occur at the skate park. As there are a number of issues that do not have easy solutions, staff is bringing forward this update to discuss the issues with City Council to receive direction on how to proceed.
On the positive side:

· The park is extremely popular with large numbers of users on a daily basis.
· The park is considered by the users as one of the best facilities in our area, which would seem to be a result of our effort to involve the skate community in the design.
· There has not been any damage, vandalism or graffiti at the park, indicating the users are being respectful of the property.
· The park is serving a segment of our community that is not necessarily served by other community facilities.
· The park is providing a legitimate place for skaters to go, as opposed to being prohibited in most parts of the community.

General observations from City staff:

· Most kids are not wearing the required safety equipment. It is estimated that 50% - 75% are not wearing a helmet and 95% are not wearing elbow and kneepads as required by the ordinance.
· The transition area between the Skate Park and parking lot has created a tricky situation as the majority of skaters skate right out into the parking lot.
· A number of skaters are coming to the park by car, which is resulting in the parking lot, at times, becoming a hang out in which skaters skate in the parking lot while music plays from the cars.
· The cyclone fence on the north side of the park has plastic slats to provide some privacy for the elementary school, which is a concern of the Police Department as it limits their ability to see into the park when approaching from the north on Griffith Lane.
· Many of the users appear to be staying at the park all day. The City has brought in portable restrooms; however, users appear to be going back and forth to the Chevron station on the corner of Balfour and Griffith.
· In talking with parents and kids on weekends, Police Officers estimate that at least 50% of the youth are from Antioch, Oakley, or out of town.
· Staff continues to add trash receptacles; however, most users of the park simply leave their trash on the ground.
· The tables provided for people to sit have become a hang out for teens to sit and socialize, many of which are smoking.

Issues of concern:

· The calls for service to the Police Department are increasing with an expectation that they will be “right there” to solve the problem. Many of the calls are concerning an “unsafe environment” and that “users aren’t wearing the required safety gear”.
· Staff from both departments have received comments from parents that many of the users of the skate park are rude and obnoxious older kids who are hanging around the park, using vulgar language. As a result, the parents will not let their kids go to the skate park alone and may not come back with their kids as the older kids make the park feel unsafe.
· Many of the park users are older teens/young adults who are fairly aggressive in their behavior when asked to abide by the rules. It has become pretty evident that the large majority of Park and Recreation staff (full and part time) are not prepared to deal directly with many of the park users, who challenge authority figures when requested to follow the rules. This situation leaves no choice but to call the Police Department to enforce the rules.
· There have been a number of complaints regarding bikes and scooters in the park that seem to disappear when staff show up.
· The current penalty for this ordinance is an administrative citation, which limits our ability to cite immediately when the rules are disobeyed.
· In accordance with State Law, the facility is not directly supervised. As a result, there is an ongoing concern of how to make sure the rules are being followed when no staff are around to enforce the rules.

There is no one simple solution that would resolve all these issues. Staff is requesting direction from City Council as to how you would direct staff to move forward. An option for consideration would be to appoint an ad-hoc City Council committee, which could include representatives of the Park and Recreation Commission, the Youth Commission, the Skate Park Task Force and Police/Park and Recreation Department staff to research and review these issues and return with recommendation(s) to City Council for action.

As an additional point of information, staff has been in contact with Rick Buys, Liability Claim Manager, with the City’s Risk Management Authority regarding the issue of direct supervision of the park. Mr. Buys has provided a written statement that says, in part: 

“Supervision of the park is optional. The immunity (described in the attached materials) applies either way. As we discussed there are arguments for or against direct supervision at the park. We take a neutral position and let the City decide how to address this issue. It does not affect your coverage either way.”

FISCAL IMPACTS
None at this time.

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