Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Final Word on Sunland Skatepark: Setting the Record Straight

Much ado has made pending renovations at Sunland Skate Park, including rash and inaccurate statements directed at this blog and the local skate moms it supported who got their first taste of civic engagement in working to save the facility that means so much to their families.

It came to a head, as reported earlier on this blog, when a spokesperson for the Department of Recreation and Parks showed up to a recent meeting of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council attempting to spin, flap and flounder the Department out of the controversy.

This all falls from accusations made by an establishment blogger who maintains all was well with the skate park and those who spoke out on the matter were something akin to luddites taking their axes to a friendly and benevolent machine that was doing the very best for them.

Yet, we all found out it was more of a charlie foxtrot on the DRP's part than any kind of conspiracy to imply the emperor had no clothes. Even the local Council office sought to spin and spread a little fear, uncertainty and doubt (the ever dreaded FUD!)

"We have $150 million stolen from our kids' parks by City Hall and we're arguing about who started a rumor that ended in getting what we want!" 

Despite all that, the people won, the park is now on track to be repaired and some local moms were empowered. When the dust settled, even a few members of the Neighborhood Council leadership came to the conclusion that the Department could have handled the matter better and were appreciative of the moms stepping up.

The upshot of the entire matter is beautifully encapsulated by the comments of a wise person I regularly correspond with. "We have $150 million stolen from our kids' parks by City Hall and we're arguing about who started a rumor that ended in getting what we want!"

True dat. We'll watch the park's progress, and with the record now resolved, we move on to fry bigger fish. 

After the jump, follows a timeline of the Skate Park saga, graciously provided by Sophia Theodoropoulos-Herbaugh, one of the skateboard moms. That's followed by a personal recap of her visit to the Neighborhood Council meeting by Yvonne David, another of the skateboard moms.


February 2013
Concrete Disciples listed the Sunland Skate Park closed per interviews with the City Department Recreation and Parks.


April 4th, 2013
April 4th Maki from Fly Scooters talked to Rec and Park employeenamed Gary, possibly John since there is no Gary, who told the park was closed and there was no money to fix it. Maki from Fly Scooters suggested if a petition might help? He asked for his Supervisor and was given a number for Nicole who told him: It wouldn’t do any good to start a petition because they are tearing it down anyway.
Petition Started April 10th, posted on April 11th….1000 signatures in the first two weeks in support.
Petition emailed on or about April 14 and 15th to:
Richard Alarcon
Mike Antonovich
Nina Royal – STNC
Cindy Cleghorn -VP STNC
Mark Seigel -PRES STNC
Dan Sherer- Land Use
Lydia Grant - Educ. Committee


April 26th SkateLa online (facebook page) operated by Rec and Parks posted at 7am “revamping Sunland Skate…coming soon”
No mention before then, and I went back to 2012

Phone call made to Craig Raines at Recs and Parks week on April 25th
Phone call returned from Craig Raines and email received on April 29th regarding Skate Park

April 26th: call to Rec Center @1:00 pm “no set re open date, but workers will be here Monday”

April 29th: email received from Craig Raines from Recs and Parks
Addendum #1: dated 4-18-13
Sundland Skate Facility Repair ( misspelled )

Yvonne David at the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council

I want to start by saying that I am ecstatic that the Sunland Skate Park is not going to be torn down but in fact going to be fixed and opened back up at the end of June. This comes straight from Andrea Epstein, a representative from Recreation and Parks that was at the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council meeting last night. Now with this confirmation she brought nothing further to the meeting. She had no answers for me as to why the community was not informed of the closure before or after the fact and why the City of Los Angeles Bid Invitation asks for “specialty concrete work” but the scope of work she referred to had nothing to do with specialty concrete work. I told her that specialty concrete work to me sounds like they should be redoing the park in concrete not just minor repair work. She referred to replacing the skate ramps with Skate-Lite Pro and replacing skate surfacing fasteners saying that these have to do with the concrete work; now I am no contractor but to me it doesn’t seen necessary to request bids from companies with a specialty in concrete work? This is just some more confusing and conflicting information given to the community.

I also questioned her as to why Nicole Royer, the Sunland Recreation Center Supervisor, was quoted on April 25th by the Foothill Paper as saying “I just heard this afternoon that the city found the money to repair the park” when there was already an invitation to bid sent from the City of Los Angeles on April 9th and a mandatory pre-bid job walk on April 18th; I would think the supervisor of the park would be a part of the process or informed of the process, at least the per-bid job walk? She said she couldn’t answer that and then Mark Seigel, President of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council  told me I should consider my source when quoting. Well Mark, are you referring to The Foothill Paper or are you referring to Nicole Royer because the Foothill Paper was only quoting the person and if Nicole Royer is in some way untrustworthy or unreliable then should she really be the supervisor of the Sunland Recreation Center where are kids play every day?

Last thing I want to say is that I appreciate what the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council represents and that they volunteer their time and effort for our community but I found it very disrespectful that the committee allowed me time on their agenda to present my concerns and reasons for my actions, including the petition we started, but ambushed me buy putting Andrea Epstein on first, not to mention she was not on the agenda, and allowing her to stand there while I was called upon to “present”. This forced me into changing my presentation of concerns into a questioning session towards Andrea. It seem to me that they did this as a way to make them look like the “good guys” and blowing me off as an incompetent person that initially jumped to conclusions with no backing.

Like I said in the beginning, I am more than happy that the skate park now has a timeline of completion but am discouraged by the way the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council handled the situation and belittled me and the community members that support the Sunland Skate Park.

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