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Don't Shutter Park, Skaters Plead

Posted: February 20, 2008 2:14 a.m.
Updated: April 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.
A local skateboard shop owner is quickly collecting signatures for a petition demanding that the city of Santa Clarita provide local kids with a place to skate this summer while the city relocates the existing skate track at the sports complex in Canyon Country.

As part of the city's plans to expand the George A. Caravalho Sports Complex, the city plans to relocate the 6,000-square-foot skate track to another area of the property, where it will be expanded to 20,000 square feet in skateable area. The new park is scheduled to open in 2009.

Through fliers, an e-mail network, and even MySpace, Mike Riederer, owner of Hydro Skateboards in Saugus, has collected 500 signatures since Saturday to send a message to the city about the importance of keeping the existing park open during construction or at least provide skaters with an alternative.

"It's the only legal place to skate in Santa Clarita," Reiderer said. "Destroying the park we have now is going to force many kids out into the streets and they will be skating at all the local shopping centers. All the younger ones are simply not going to go out and skate the streets. They're going to lose the pursuit of the passion we all share."

Riederer said he is gathering "hundreds" of skaters to go to the City Council meeting on Tuesday and voice their concerns to the city and the City Council.

"We've had a skate park here for 10 years and we've gained a lot of riders out here," he said. "We're simply asking that they work around the skate park and hurry up and build a new skate park."

But Rick Gould, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services for the city, said Tuesday that his staff is working on finding alternatives.

"There's no need to rush down to City Hall at this point," Gould said. "Give us a chance to work on it."
He said that although some of the preliminary construction has begun at the park, grading for the new skate park won't begin until the middle of May or June.

"The skate track isn't closing anytime soon," he said. "There are a lot of requests to find an alternative to closing and we're currently looking at those alternatives right now."

He said the city is looking into ways to operate the park temporarily in a different location and said he is trying to minimize downtime.

He said the city is hoping to keep the skate park closed "somewhere between six and nine months at the worst."

"We certainly understand their desires," he said. "We're increasing the size of this skate track by over four times and it's going to be state of the art. Sometimes when you do things like that, there are tradeoffs or costs and that's kind of what we're confronting."

Gould said the land at the park is "very complex" and has "some major geology issues."

The upper part of skate track, for instance, is actually part of a drainage basin, he said.

"You don't just pick it up and move it to another location," he said.

Though the petition is non-binding, Gould called the opposition "disappointing" and said the skaters helped in designing the new park and knew there would be a possibility the existing park would be unavailable during relocation.


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