Despite problems with bullying, graffiti and other Municipal Code violations at the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park during its opening last August, conditions at the skaters’ haven have improved significantly just in time for summer.
Last year, safety concerns at the skate park, which also included lack of parental supervision and skaters who refused to wear safety gear, led parks department Superintendent Erik Schulze then-Acting Police Chief Nino Amirfar to host a pair of community meetings at the park. There, the two city leaders reminded skaters and their parents about the park’s rules and regulations. Since the meetings were held, Schulze said that the skate park has seen an impressive decrease in issues.
“The police have seen a significant drop in calls for service at the skate park,” said Schulze. “We feel that the time spent educating the community on what constitutes Municipal Code Violations during the opening month contributed greatly to the marked decrease in calls for service.”
At the skate park’s grand opening ceremony in late September of last year, the Turlock Police Department handed out free helmets and pads to children who didn’t have any, which helped reduce the number of park-goers lacking proper safety equipment. Schulze added that there are still leftover pads and helmets that can be picked up free of charge at the Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities office.
And while the skate park has still seen a few instances of graffiti, they have been “minimal,” said Schulze.
The skate park has provided many positives for the community in its first nine months of operation, such as providing Turlock youth with a safe place to skate and even attracting outside visitors.
“The skate park provides a safe environment, as most skateboarding injuries occur outside of skate parks due to irregularities in skating surfaces,” said Schulze. “The park has also provided a positive economic benefit, as we have seen a large number of users coming from outside of Turlock.”
Marcus Lasiter, from Hughson, and his friend Edgar Medina of Modesto travelled to Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park Thursday afternoon to get out of the house and enjoy the warming weather.
“We come to this one because it’s better than all the other skate parks we know,” said Medina.
“This one is nicer and more taken care of,” added Lasiter.
Lasiter’s mother, Annie Lasiter, said although it was her first time bringing the boys to the skate park, the crowd there seemed to be well-behaved. She saw no bullying, and said the skate park seemed like a safe place for her son and friend to get some exercise.
“As you can see, kids are using it and it gets them out of the house rather than being glued to the TV,” said Annie. “It’s important for kids to be outside.”
The coming months will mark the skate park’s first full summer open to the public, and the number of skaters making use of the park’s cookie-shaped designs is expected to increase substantially. But, thanks to improved behavior at the park, neither Schulze nor TPD are expecting any problems and hope that attendees continue to abide by the rules posted in the skate park.
“We expect to see the users continue to follow the park rules as posted and enjoy the park they helped design,” said Schulze.