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Skate Park Opens for a 90-Day Test

October 29, 2000|ROBERTO J. MANZANO

Wearing helmets, knee pads and elbow pads, dozens of skateboarders and roller-bladers converged at Gates Canyon Park on Saturday, just as officials had hoped.

After three years of city debate over where to put a skate park, officials and skaters gathered to dedicate the new official site for the sport. Eager skaters quickly tested the ramps, doing 50/50 grinds, 360-degree turns and slides off the rail.

But the skate park, consisting of five ramps on the basketball court during specified hours, is temporary.

In 90 days, the City Council will review any residents' complaints about increased traffic, crime or noise related to the skate park. Council members will then determine if the park can stay, said Mayor Pro Tem Janice Lee.

"Hopefully, it will stand the test of scrutiny and we will a have a skateboard park kids can use and enjoy for a long, long time," Lee said.

Rich Mudge, a member of the city's skate park task force, said it was difficult persuading homeowners to allow a skate park in their neighborhood. During the three-year struggle, several sites were considered, prompting residents' complaints that a nearby park would increase traffic and reduce their property values.

"[The park] is small but it was like pulling teeth to get it forward," said Mudge, 28, a Granada Hills resident who operates a pottery business in Calabasas.

Mudge said the park will benefit skating enthusiasts who previously had to travel to skate parks in Simi Valley or Huntington Beach.

Since a state law took effect last year reducing the liability risks in operating public skate parks, more cities are building them. The push for this skate park began after 16-year-old Jason Lewin died after he was hit by a car while roller-skating in Calabasas in June 1997.

"Getting people to finally recognize [the park] makes it all worthwhile. It goes to show you what a community can do if they get together," said Jason's father, Martin Lewin, 52, of Calabasas.

The park will initially cost $32,000 a year in equipment, staff and maintenance, said Jeff Rubin, the city's recreation services manager. Operations will cost $20,000 annually thereafter, he said.

The park safely accommodates up to 20 skaters, Rubin said, and features staff trained to administer first aid, including CPR.

Beginning Thursday, the park will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Skaters must register and pay $2 for daily use or $20 for monthly passes. Participants must also wear safety gear to use the skate park at 25801 Thousand Oaks Blvd.

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