According to the Community Service & Recreation Department, the South Pasadena Skate Park re-opened for standard operating hours as of last Thursday, May 2.
A kick flip, ollie and front side flip are all tricks experienced skateboarders attempt with regularity, unless the place they’re used to performing them is suddenly closed.
That was the situation facing some regulars at South Pasadena’s skate park in Arroyo Park after they showed up to get some practice in last week at the local facility.
After arriving, they were not allowed to go inside as the doors were locked.
Some of those same skateboarders took their complaints to the May 1 South Pasadena City Council meeting, wondering when they will have an opportunity to go back to enjoying the park.
City officials objected to an obstacle for skateboarders that had been created at the site without going through the proper channels. Those using the park said the modification would only enhance what is already there and hoped it will stay.
“It’s my understanding somebody attempted to do physical construction on city property without any permits, without any notice to the city, with no ability of the city knowing whether the structure would be safe or not,” said South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe following the May 1 council meeting. “It definitely is something we’ll look in to.”
Sheila Pautsch, South Pasadena’s community services director, explained that on Tuesday, April 30, the city’s recreation department office received a call from a public works staff member asking if a construction project underway in the skate park had been approved by her department.
Pautsch immediately headed to the park and discovered a man forming what she described as “a bench shaped obstacle,” noting, “He was leveling wet concrete with a tool when I got there.”
Along with the public works official, Pautsch said a police officer and a city code enforcement officer were called to the scene. The man doing the construction, according to Pautsch, was told to leave the park with his tools and materials.
Pautsch said several skateboarders at the site inquired about the removal of the materials, telling her the person was simply making a contribution – spending his own time and money – by making a donation to the park. Pautsch suggested they could voice their concerns during public comment as part of last week’s City Council meeting. She also told them the park would remain closed until it was deemed safe to skate.
Pautsch said the public works department removed the obstacle on the morning of May 1, hours before the 7:30 p.m. scheduled council meeting at City Hall, adding that the skate park reopened last Thursday at about 1:30 p.m. She said the man who constructed the obstacle left the skate park, leaving behind his tools and materials that are now at the South Pasadena Police Department.
Echoing concerns raised by the city manager, Pautsch said proper approvals and “plans were not sought prior to starting the work and the obstacle was removed as a liability and safety concern for the city.”
Lenny Dodge-Kuhn, 14, a student at Sequoyah High School in Pasadena and a frequent user of the skate park which is tucked in the corner of the park behind All-Star Baseball School Batting Cages, stressed before last week’s City Council meeting that a professional skate park designer “spent time, effort and money making a skate boarding box, a very safe obstacle using cement,” he explained. “The cement was just drying when someone from the city saw it and called, I think, community affairs, and asked if this person had a permit to do this. Someone came down, and felt very unsafe entering the skate park and called police. An officer proceeded to kick us all out of the skate park without telling us what was going on.”
Dodge-Kahn said the person constructing the box in the park did not have a permit.
Not knowing the obstacle had already come down earlier in the day, the young teen urged the council to consider granting a “retroactive permit because it’s a positive contribution to society,” Dodge-Kuhn added. “It’s something that is helping the youth and adults alike because it’s a skate park visited by many.”
He asked to slow the destruction of the box until there was a longer discussion of the matter. Council members could not take up the issue because it was not a part of the meeting’s official agenda, aside from praising the skateboarders for their courage to come forward with the issue.
“Rather than take the box out, adapting to the fact it has already been made, we’d like to not see it destructed until the possibilities of retroactive permitting,” Dodge-Kuhn insisted. “Let’s not destroy it. Let’s establish that it’s safe. Let’s get insurance for it. Let’s talk about it before it comes down.”
Dodge-Kuhn said the person responsible for its construction paid for it “out of pocket,” explaining he hoped it would remain as one of the park’s key obstacles for skateboarders.
“This forces kids to skate where they could be at risk damaging a business property or getting hit by a car,” he said. “This park has been a positive place.”
Dexter Bernath, 11, of South Pasadena went to the skate park the day of the council meeting, noting it was still closed. Unaware it had been torn down, he encouraged council members to reopen the with the newly created feature intact.
Michael Rosales, 22, among those who also addressed his concerns before the council, said he would like the facility “left alone in the sense that things are brought there for the betterment of the skate park,” he said, noting the box “is built very professionally. There should be no issue of it being there. But I do understand that certain things can get in the way of that. I understand the liability issues, but I think there could be a compromise.”