American Canyon’s skate park, now 15 years old, is in a state of limbo. It needs repairs, and possibly a new location, according to residents who use the recreational facility located behind the Community Gym and next door to the middle school.
But city officials are unsure about improving the existing site because the school district may want to purchase the land, though it doesn’t have any immediate plans to do so.
The issue of the skate park’s condition and future arose during the city’s adoption of its annual budget on June 26.
Resident Kim McDonald appeared before the City Council to plead for some kind of solution for the aging concrete park.
“The community is pretty much begging to do something with the skate park,” which opened in 2003, said McDonald.
She pointed out that when it was constructed, metal ramps were installed so they could be replaced every 3-5 years once they started to wear out.
But that plan hasn’t been followed, according to McDonald.
“Our park gets a lot of use,” she told the council. “People still use it. They love it. But we’d like to see it taken care of and properly maintained.”
The issue has become complicated by the fact that the Napa Valley Unified School District has indicated in recent years a desire to purchase the land beneath the skate park as part of its multi-million-dollar Facilities Master Plan, according to McDonald and City Manager Jason Holley.
Holley told the council that the city has been reluctant to invest money in renovating the skate park because of NVUSD’s interest in the property.
“We are hesitant to expend really any funds at the current location” for that reason, Holley said.
NVUSD spokesperson Elizabeth Emmett told the American Canyon Eagle that the district has interests in the site, but no plans at this time to pursue it.
“We have not approached the city about buying the skate park land,” said Emmett, “and have no plans to at this point.”
She said the 2016 Facilities Master Plan called for building a second gym at American Canyon Middle School, which is adjacent to the skate park. That site was “noted as a possible location” for the new gym.
“However, that is not part of our Measure H Implementation Plan,” said Emmett, referring to the district’s blueprint for spending money from the $269 million school bond approved by voters in 2016.
“We have no plans or funding for that project at this point,” she said. “So while that may be where the city got the idea, we have made no inquiries or offers.”
In the meantime, the skate park is getting older and in need of work.
Mayor Leon Garcia said he has heard from other residents about the state of the park.
He said a family that lives in the nearby neighborhood expressed concerns about the park’s safety, that “some of the metal [ramps] had come unattached,” according to Garcia.
“At the minimum we should assess” how safe it is with the metal ramps, Garcia said, “and what types of repairs” might be needed.
“Certainly, if it’s something that’s not repairable and a safety hazard, then we shouldn’t have people there,” the mayor said. “But in the long run,” he added, “we’ll need to plan to have a new skate park.”
He then asked Holley if the new city budget for 2018-2019 included funding for the skate park.
Holley said it didn’t. “There are no appropriations in the budget for repairs at the skateboard park.”
The city manager informed the council that the city was originally planning to develop a parks and recreation master plan to determine the community’s needs in these two areas. But then they decided to fold that process into the city’s larger effort to update American Canyon General Plan, which governs the city’s overall development and growth.
Funding for the General Plan update was included in the budget, and the update will involve “a robust” recreational study. “We’ll be looking in great detail at our parks” and their needs, Holley said.
The General Plan update may take as long as two years to complete, he added. During that process they will examine whether the city should spend money to improve the skate park at its current location or move it somewhere else.
Councilmember Mark Joseph echoed the mayor’s concerns about the safe use of the skate park by residents, saying a “safety check needs to be done” and, if necessary, repairs made.
Holley said the city would send someone out to the park to inspect it, and would report back to the council by its July 31 meeting.
Parks and Recreation Director Creighton Wright, who did not attend the June 26 council meeting, told the Eagle that he personally inspected the site on Monday along with Parks Supervisor Brian Materne.
“Despite some minor graffiti, my perception of the park,” Wright said, is that it’s “in pretty good shape, especially when considering the age.”
The city inspects the park “every other week and cleaned weekly,” according to Wright. “This seems sufficient given the use and the limited wear we have noticed recently.”
He added the only problem he and Materne saw during their Monday walk-through was one of the steel panel corners was bent upward. The panel is not easily accessible, he said, “but it could pose as a minor safety issue.”
As for the future of the park, Wright said it needs to move to “a different location, and we are due for a new one.”
“The question that needs answered is where, what size and how much will it cost,” he said. “These are questions [that] will be posed and then hopefully answered through the update to the General Plan.”