City to Spend $40,000 for Skatepark Design
• Current Equipment to Be Moved Temporarily to Location
BY BILL KOENEKER
To the thunderous applause of a standing-room-only crowd of young people and skateboard enthusiasts, the Malibu City Council this week unanimously agreed to spend up to $40,000 for design services for a new skatepark at Malibu Bluffs.
Skatepark enthusiasts praised the council's decision. The call for design services is for a permanent facility at Bluffs Park.
However, this time was not without controversy as another group of park users, mostly seniors, urged the council to seek another venue for the skateboarders instead of Bluffs Park.
Hope Berk said it was too much to add another facility at Bluffs Park.
Jane Hannigan said the Bluffs Park location is "an impossible location" and that other sites should be more closely investigated including Trancas or Zuma Beach.
Council candidate Hamish Patterson said there had already been extensive discussions about other locations and that Bluffs Park fits the bill. "To deny use of the park to any one group would not be right," he said.
There was a line of not just youngsters, but adult skateboarders moms and dads, who came to the council chambers to express their support for a skatepark and in particular a skatepark at Bluffs Park.
"Think about sharing it with the children. It is a world-class location. If you oppose it, take a deep breath, but keep the kids off the street," he added.
Point Dume resident David Brotman suggested the design and construction of a skatepark could be turned into a competition for possibly a unique design.
Former planning commissioner Regan Scharr, whose son is a skateboard champion, said there are more children with a skateboard than own baseball mitts. "Skateboards are not just really for children," she said.
Last year, the city council formed a Skatepark Ad Hoc Committee to address the loss of the city's skate park. The committee, comprised of outgoing Councilmembers Jefferson Wagner and Pamela Conley Ulich, were tasked with assessing the need for a permanent or temporary skatepark, identifying potential locations with favorable zoning and community acceptance and researching funding sources and costs for new park construction.
The panel assessed several options for construction of a temporary skate park. Of the sites considered, a portion of the Malibu Bluffs Park parking lot was deemed the most feasible location.
Both council members talked about how other locations were looked at, but none proved as feasible as the Bluffs Park since the city owns the land.
"Bluffs Park is the place to put this. The kids are already there," said Councilmember Lou La Monte. "We need to find a way to build a world-class skatepark. But we need to put a temporary park in now."
"The staff is currently working on a plan to establish a temporary skate facility at the park, including negotiating an agreement with the adjacent property owner to use a portion of his land for parking," said Bob Stallings, the city's parks and recreation director, in a memo to council members.
Councilmember John Sibert said he had met with the folks who oppose the location. "We don't know the design. We don't know how it fits in at Bluffs Park," he said, saying that is what the designers would show.
Sibert asked City Manager Jim Thorsen how long it would take to build a new park and was told anywhere from 15 months to two years.
At first, the council members got into a confusing discussion about how to proceed and what money to spend, but got back on track when City Attorney Christi Hogin explained that what was before them was only a Request for Proposal with authorizing up to $40,000 for the design process.
The council figured they already have the money to make the move of the old equipment onto the existing site at the bluffs location.
During subsequent meetings, according to city officials, community skaters expressed interest in placing a higher priority on constructing a permanent skate park in Malibu.
"The proposed scope of work for the RFP will include tasks for community outreach, conceptual design, schematic design, final design development and construction documents. The design work would include conceptual and schematic design, grading and drainage plans, community meetings to discuss needs and final construction documents and specifications," Parks and Recreation Director Bob Stallings told council members.
Conley Ulich and Wagner announced at the previous council meeting they had reached a tentative agreement for locating the skate park at Bluffs Park.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said the old equipment is expected to be relocated to the new site and the agreement is being routed through attorneys. The municipal staff is currently looking at the exact cost for the move over to the Bluffs Park.
The city council several months ago unanimously voted to authorize the city manager to negotiate and sign a short-term lease/permitting agreement not to exceed $35,000 annually to relocate the city-run skatepark.
Almost 10 months ago, the city received notice of termination of the skatepark agreement, the new owners including Steve Soboroff needed to get back the land for an Environmental Impact Report that is about to begin on the property for a Whole Foods anchored shopping center. Soboroff said recently a lease has been signed by the Whole Foods Company
After further consideration, Soboroff agreed to extend the use of the property through Oct. 31, 2011 to allow more time for the city to relocate the park.
Municipal officials have always talked about using the parking lot at Malibu Bluffs Park.
However, planners insist the feasibility of relocating to the site is dependent on the use of the privately owned property adjacent to the park to offset the loss of parking spaces.
The committee also considered relocating the skatepark to the west end of the Zuma Beach parking lot # 12.
Wagner said the problem in relocating the park is the difficulty in securing property. "It is not a matter of will," Wagner said in addressing the critics at a previous meeting. "We are not sitting on our hands. And I agree the park should be for all ages."
Other costs include moving the ramps, possible fencing, windscreens, resurfacing, access gates and office trailer and utility connections.
"Until the relocation site has been identified, the projected costs are anticipated to range from $15,000-$50,000. Once a final location is determined, staff will present a budget to the city council for approval," Stallings concluded in a previous staff report.
For more than 12 years, the city had maintained an agreement at no cost to use vacant land that was called Papa Jack's skate park.