Judith Suliman visits Turlock's skate park almost every day. Although you won't see her honing her skills on the park's rails or ramps, she is very invested in the success of the park. Suliman was the driving force in having the Turlock Skate Park renamed in honor of her nephew, Brandon Koch, who lost his battle with adrenocortical cancer in April 2012.
"When I see all the kids, even the ones on bikes using the park, it's a good thing and it's what he would've wanted. He'd be happy," said Suliman about Koch, who was an avid skater.
Suliman plans to continue advocating for the skate park in her nephew's memory as plans move forward to have it relocated from its current site on Starr Avenue to Donnelly Park. The Turlock City Council voted in August 2013 to move the park due to the sale of the land it sits on — along with the former police department building — to the Turlock Irrigation District.
At that time, a community design committee was formed to help oversee the $240,000 project. A year and half later that committee — which includes Suliman — is getting closer to having design plans to review.
Once design plans have been completed, the Skate Park Community Committee will add their input and the plans will be presented in a public forum.
The City of Turlock used state bond funds to build the skate park and as part of that funding agreement had to wait 10 years before making any significant changes. The expiration date on the agreement is Aug. 15, 2015, and that is the target date for moving the last pieces of the skate park to Donnelly Park.
The Donnelly Park site will include new designs, as well as bring over elements from the Starr Avenue location.
"Our hope is that we will have a seamless move with those elements to the new park ," said Erik Schulze, Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities superintendent during a project update to the Parks, Arts and Recreation Committee meeting on Wednesday.
Although a design for the new skate park is still in the works, Schulze said it will be a "free-flowing park" with a wide skate path that leads to the skate park with elements along the way.
The exact size of the skate park has not yet been determined, but it will be located in the southwest interior of the Donnelly Park in the meadow next to the old playground.
Suliman said she is looking forward to viewing the design plans and would like to see more "professional" elements added to the new skate park.
"What I'm envisioning — besides a ton of kids there — is an all cement piece as opposed to the movable pieces we have now, and more professional skating areas," she said. "This park's going to be there for a very, very long time. It needs to stand the test of time and give kids the ability to learn and grow their skills."
When it is completed, the new skate park will also be home to a lighted Brandon Koch memorial boulder and plaque recognizing the talented skateboarder and community leader.
"I look at the kids and I think about the legacy he left them," said Suliman. "Helping the kids become good skaters, that was his passion."