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Parks commission approves relocation of skatepark

Parks commission approves relocation of skatepark

The move of Turlock’s skate park raised concerns the Brandon Koch memorial tribute would be left behind, but the Parks Commission has said any move would include the memorial items.

POSTED July 12, 2013 9:55 p.m.

For Turlockers, letting the Brandon Koch skatepark move is perfectly fine, as long as it’s safe for the community's children.


At a special public forum hosted by the Turlock Parks and Recreation commission, the commission voted to approve the resolution to direct Turlock City Council to relocate the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park. If passed, the park, which currently sits on Palm Ave to the cities would move to the city’s largest recreation area, Donnelly Park.


The move comes after the Turlock Irrigation District stated that it would be buying the east side property that the skate park is currently located on. After news spread of the acquisition, local residents feared that city might lose the skate park entirely, and along with it the memorial that went along with. 


The current skate park is dedicated to Turlock skateboarder, Brandon Koch, who passed away last year due to adrenocortical cancer.


Kochs’ friends and family who took part in the lengthy process to have the park named after him, feared that if the park were lost, the memorial to Koch would be lost along with it.


Cody Lee, who was one the community members who initially opposed the move, stated that his biggest concern was preservation of the memorial.


“My number one concern is that the memories of our loved ones is carried,” said Lee.


Allison Van Guilder, who serves as manager for Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities stated the commission has the full intention to move both the Brandon Koch memorial rock and also a memorial bench a placed in memory of fellow Turlock skateboarder, Jon Phillips.


Van Guilder also stated the new park at Donnelly would be bigger, better and more modern - citing the facilities proximity to restrooms, increased parking options and futuristic design.


Although most of the community members who attended Wednesday’s forum supported a newer, more improved park, they expressed concerns on how the children would actually get to the new park destination.


Aunt of the late Koch, Judith Solomon, stated that Brandon would have been very supportive of the new park but that the city should make traveling to the new park, especially across Geer Rd, much safer.


“There should be some sort of pedestrian crosswalk that goes over Geer,” said Solomon. “We really can't lose another child.”

In order to combat the problem, the commission discussed the possibility of creating a transit route that would take interested skaters across town to the new skate park.


Some community members that partook in the public forum proposed alternative locations for the park, stating the specific area of Donnelly Park selected, is not suitable for a skate park.


William Overton, friend of Brandon Koch, stated that the proposed Donnelly location is a haven for drugs and drinking, and that the park should instead be moved to Crane Park on Canal Drive.


“Donnelly is not the right place for these kids,” said Overton.


If approved by the Council, construction for the new park is slated to begin in November of this year, with completion of the project estimated to be in April of 2014.


Parks Commissioner, Brent Bohlender, who has been involved in the skate park project since its inception, expressed concern that if the Council does not take action for the park now, the project may remain in a “state of limbo.”


“I know how many amenities were left out of the originally proposed park,” said Bohlender. “If we don't move on this then we’ll be in a limbo that won't let us move at all.”

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