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VC Skate Spot closed due to safety concerns



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March 26, 2014
Chain-link fences now block off the Valley Center Skate Spot, which was closed until further notice last week after the Valley Center Parks and Recreation District determined it was unsafe for use while under construction.

The skate park, which sits behind the Little League baseball fields near the community center, has been the source of both excitement and frustration since opening last fall. Although many have praised it as a welcome outlet for local skaters, others, including members of Valley Center Little League, have raised concerns about smoking, swearing, safety, and a lack of adult supervision.

Representatives from the Parks and Rec board, the Skate Park board, Little League, and General Manager Doug Johnsen met on Feb. 26 to discuss some of the issues. By all accounts it was a productive meeting, with the skaters agreeing to fence off the skate park and take down the temporary wooden ramp. The Little League also conceded eight parking spaces to the skaters.

However, by the time the Parks and Recreation board met on March 19, many issues remained unresolved.

"There isn't any more safety fencing, there's nothing to keep the kids out from getting into the construction area, and that was one of the things that we talked about them taking care of," said Johnsen. "I think I've given them ample time to take care of these issues."

By a 4-1 vote, the board voted to close the skate park until construction is completed and the safety issues are resolved.

"It's not a safe place right now," said John Scibilia, director. "As far as I'm concerned, we have no alternative but to close that thing down until it's done properly."

Mark Hertenstein, president of the Skate Park board, said he is disappointed the park is closed but intends to cooperate fully with Parks and Rec.

"It took us a little bit by surprise," said Hertenstein. "We're in compliance. We're going to put up a fence, we'll have the ramp down, and hopefully we can cap the concrete and stuff in the next couple weeks and re-open the park."

Hertenstein says the skate park board has enough funds to complete the concrete bowls currently under construction, but it will require another fundraiser or donor to continue progress on the skate park. He hopes the park's closure will not stall the momentum that has gathered in the community for a public skate park.

"I know it's going to hurt the kids though, because it's packed every day, 15-20 kids there," said Hertenstein. "That's going to be a little shock for them, but we're going to try and get it back open in two months, hopefully."

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