The Napa City Council was full of praise for staff of the Parks and Recreation Department, which presented it Tuesday afternoon with choices on where to construct a new skate park.
In addition to unanimously approving the publicly favored Kennedy Park as the future skate park site, each member of the council applauded staff and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission for making the site selection process transparent and encouraging youth participation.
During the afternoon meeting, two teen skaters took a break from skateboarding to express their gratitude to the city for including them in the process and giving them the chance to sit on a committee that will help choose the company that will design and construct the park.
“Thank you for the whole process,” said Matt Mullet, a member of the skateboarding community who will sit on the Skate Park Selection Committee, along with staff, members of the public, Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission members and others who will use the new park. The committee will help interview prospective park developers.
Staff explained the process that led up to the recommendation of Kennedy as the future site. Over the past few months, the city held numerous public meetings, several of which filled City Hall with skateboarders.
During one of those meetings, skateboarders made it clear they wanted the city to make sure the park is done right, rather than quickly. Subsequent meetings gave skaters the chance to vote on where they’d like the new park to be located.
“(Staff) worked really hard to make this a process that is really transparent and includes the public,” said Parks and Recreation Advisory Commissioner Mark Lucas. “It’s almost like a tweak on the Iowa caucus process.”
Among the skating community and those who showed up to meetings, Kennedy Park was the overwhelming favorite among potential sites.
“For us it’s really a slam dunk that it’s Kennedy,” Lucas said. “That money can be well spent. ... (Skaters) want to see the majority of that money put into the park, something we can have in our community that will be a shining star, maybe better than St. Helena’s park.”
The city has budgeted $1.44 million in park quadrant funds — fees paid by developers for park construction — for the skate park. By using a city-owned site that already has parking, restrooms and electrical hookups, more money can be spent on constructing the skating facilities. In previous public meetings, skaters were adamant they want the new park to consist of concrete, not metal, amenities.
“Kennedy seems like the site that makes the most sense,” said Cody Herman, another member of the park selection committee.
Skaters said they don’t mind that the new site is a ways away from the current park on Yajome Street, which will eventually be demolished when the block is redeveloped. They said those without cars or parental transportation can ride the VINE or travel the planned River Trail to Kennedy.
Councilman Peter Mott said he’s glad there is movement on what he and several others described as a “long process.” However, Mott said he’s somewhat concerned about placing the park at a site as secluded as Kennedy, located behind Napa Valley College off Highway 221, and so far from downtown.
“Kennedy is somewhat removed,” he said. “When it comes forward, I’ll be looking for those things that are going to assure us it’s going to remain a top park and remain graffiti-free for the most part.”
Mott mentioned previous copper thefts that cost the city a pretty penny to replace and repair. He said he wants the design plans to address such concerns and added that there should be discussions about how young skaters will make their way to the skate park.
Exactly where in Kennedy Park the facilities will be built is yet to be determined. Staff identified four potential locations, and the final spot will be decided once a design and build firm is selected.
The city will now begin the process of issuing a request for qualifications to begin the process of choosing a firm. Parks Superintendent Dave Perazzo said there could be a new park by the spring of 2014.