Protesters gathered at the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park on Monday to voice opposition to the proposed move of the park from its current location on Starr Avenue to Donnelly Park.
The move comes in light of the ongoing negotiations between the Turlock Irrigation District and the City of Turlock to purchase the property on which the skate park currently sits. Along with the purchase of the skate park, the TID would also be acquiring both the War Memorial and former police station buildings as part of the agreement.
“Right now, what the district and city are trying to do is come to an agreement on what the value is of the facilities,” said Herb Smart, TID spokesperson. “There's a lot of different options the district could take.”
Monday's protest was organized by friends and family of Koch, the Turlock skater who died of adrenocortical cancer in 2012. On April 12, the Turlock Skate Park was renamed in his honor.
Nickie Koch, Brandon’s sister, said that along with sentimental value, the park is also an important place for the local youth.
“This is where the kids go when they have nowhere to go,” said Koch. “There are a lot of memories here.”
The new park, which is planned for Donnelly Park, is expected to showcase a new design and improved skating facilities. Despite the improvements, however, community members continue to be leery about the shift.
Mark Ellis, one of the protestors at Monday's gathering, said that although improvements are needed for the park, the move should come after construction on the new park has already begun.
“There are two sides to this,” said Ellis. “One side is that upgrades are definitely needed, but the other is that there is not much in this area that keeps the kids occupied.”
Andrew Ellis, who is a frequent visitor of the park and an avid skater, said that if the city holds construction until a new park is built, it would be a much-needed sign of compassion.
“Let us have this park until they build another one,” said Ellis. “It would be a good sign that they care.”
Smart said that the TID is exploring the best option for both the city and the district.
“We’re working with city the best we can to still have the city provide what they currently provide out of those venues,” said Smart.
An open forum regarding the finalization of the skate park move to Donnelly Park will be hosted by the City of Turlock Parks Commission at 6 p.m. on July 10 in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall.