Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ojai Commits To Skate Park

Staff, council find common ground with Skate Ojai on costs, construction issues

By Nao Braverman
City staff and council members came together Tuesday night to mend the rift that has drawn them apart from members of Skate Ojai and local skateboarders over the past few weeks.
“We are here to build a park,” said Mayor Sue Horgan. “It will not be easy, there will be bumps in the road, but we are going to do it.”
The special City Council meeting was scheduled to clarify some misunderstandings and give council members an opportunity to respond to issues regarding the skate park that they weren’t able to address at the previous council meeting a week prior.
Difficulties arose earlier this month when city staff received an estimate for the skate park from Site Design Group that was nearly $200,000 over budget. While city staff and members of Skate Ojai have committed to working through the budget discrepancies as quickly as possible, city manager Jere Kersnar said that the skate park’s completion date would be delayed several months at the very least, until August 2009.
Kersnar admitted to members of the public Tuesday that he had seen the estimate before the design was presented to the public at the Oct. 1 Planning Commission meeting. But it was only two minutes before the meeting, so he had decided to go forward with the presentation, he said.
The Site Design Group representative who presented the design to the Planning Commission was only a junior designer at the firm, and could not answer budget questions regarding the increased costs the night of the meeting, said Kersnar.
The estimate which came in an e-mail before the meeting was $533,430 instead of the budgeted $360,000, Kersnar said. It was unclear and apparently incomplete, he added, which means that the numbers could get even higher once public art and other costs that hadn’t been included in the estimate were factored in.
“In any event we are committed to getting this back on track as soon as possible,” he said.
When city staff finally spoke with the lead designer, Kanten Russell, on Oct. 6, Russell had agreed to give the city a design which was built to budget. Kersnar said he received the rough downsized version at 5 a.m the next morning. The designer had subtracted a bank with ledges on the east side of the property, eliminated one of the main elements, shortened a half pipe and cut off two corners to make the park smaller.
“Part of the problem appears to be that too many people were giving directions to the design group,” said Kersnar. “It was a process that wasn’t being well controlled.”
Although he conceded that the firm should not have been taking directions from just anyone, he decided to direct all communication to Site Design through the city’s recreation director, Dale Summersille.
‘“I was frustrated and I do not doubt that I was curt,” said Kersnar regarding his communication with members of Skate Ojai. But he affirmed that the city’s goal was congruent with that of Skate Ojai’s, and that the park would get built, though not as quickly as staff had hoped.
City attorney Monte Widders confirmed that volunteer labor could be used for the construction of the skate park.
Public Works director Mike Culver said that he had misunderstood and mis-represented the prevailing wage requirements of the labor code, which mandate employees working on public projects be paid prevailing wage.
Widders said that an exception to the law, which allows volunteers to work for free on public projects for a government agency or (501)c3 nonprofit organizations, had been extended, and would allow volunteers to work on the skate park construction.
“It seems this opens the door in a wide way to allow volunteer labor,” said Horgan.
Sasha Wolfe, a consistent advocate for the Ojai community garden, lamented the loss of 60 percent of the existing garden to make room for the skate park.
Skate Ojai member Bob Daddi assured council members and the public that members of Skate Ojai would gladly extend a hand to Wolfe in revitalizing the garden. “There is plenty of land back there and we will be happy to volunteer and help,” he said.
At the next meeting, set for Oct. 27, city staff, members of Skate Ojai, and a City Council representative will meet with Site Design Group to review the estimate in detail and try to bring down costs.
Kersnar said that members of Skate Ojai have indicated that the estimate by Site Design Group may have been too high. Council members also agreed that the use of volunteer labor might bring down expenses.
Ojai resident Pat McPherson asked that ongoing meetings regarding the skate park be recorded, and the minutes made public on the city web site, to prevent further mis-understandings.
Kersnar was not in favor of the idea, but agreed to consider posting updates and bullet points on the city web site regarding the skate park’s progress.


Anonymous said...

what a complete wastes of time and moeny.

Deborah Moe said...

Obviously you know nothing about skateboarding, could really care less, or have nothing to do with children. Oh I forgot that when you leave a message like that you also must have no balls by signing it anonymous. Many local people, parents, children, young & older adults have spent many many years trying to construct this project. It has been hampered, delayed and railroaded long enough. Thanks for our great City Council and especially our Mayor, Sue Horgon, for moving this project along, believing in our vision, as well as wanting what's best for the kids of Ojai. Too many kids have grown up here listening to the empty promises regarding this park. The time has come and being a member of Skate Ojai, I'm absolutely jubilent out it. So try to see the flip side of the coin and be positive or save your comments. Children are our future and embracing them is what it's all about. We're very excited it's finally going to happen. Oh yea you should learn to spell.

paul mall said...

will there be a smoking section at the new park.

Cenen said...

This park is so needed. Look at other tiny little CA cities in the middle of nowhere that have put up all the money to build a skate park twice as big and twice as expensive as Ojai's proposed park. They've really stepped up for their kids, giving them a positive option to expend their energy. Cities such as Los Osos, Grass Valley, Pacifica, Borrego Springs, Atascadero, Santa Paula, Oxnard, Solvang, etc, etc. At a minimum Ojai needs the design presented at the Oct 1 meeting.
In regards to this quote:
“Part of the problem appears to be that too many people were giving directions to the design group,” said Kersnar. “It was a process that wasn’t being well controlled.”
I was at the design meetings and part of the process as explained to us by Site Design was for all attendees to put in their ideas and input. It was stated that the designers would take all the ideas into consideration, but still make a park within budget. It says on their website too that this is their process.
A good skate park will be heavily utilized by the youth of Ojai and will also attract other skaters who will spend money in Ojai at eateries, hotels, etc. It will be a win, win.

James Hatch said...

You mean to tell me that we do not have a single person in Ojai that can design a concrete hole in the ground?

I am sick and tired of big contracts being outsourced. I can guarantee that a local company could build this cheaper, safer, and faster than some out of town jerks that will be tacking on hotel costs to the bill.

Way to go City of Ojai. Just another example of Ojai putting Ojai second for the benefit of a couple of tourist bucks.

Anonymous said...

I suppose if we did have someone local, they would have bid on this project, but they didn't, so our only choice is the "out-of-town jerks" you speak of. Guess they're not jerks anymore, huh?

James Hatch said...

No, they are jerks by default since they are from out of town. I guess that makes you one too, huh!

Anonymous said...

"pall maul"
There is smoking at the park now, tho it don't smell much like tabackee.

rev. Green said...

Are you talking about the wacky tabacky. Smoke to get high not to die. smoke the green not the nicotine.

Stedman Winfield, Ojai Citizen said...

How many skateboarders are there in Ojai? Does that number justify the expense to build something that serves a very limited portion of the population? Construction costs, insurance, liability in case of an accident, are all costs that the taxpayer should not have to shoulder for such a narrow portion of the population.
The money should be spent on bike lanes thru the city, to keep kids and adults alike from illegally riding on the sidewalks, especially along the arcade. This is quite possibly the stupidest project the city has considered. How about putting up speed limit signs, or more lighted crosswalks so that the citizens of ojai are not killed while trying to navigate around town? If your children want a skatepark so badly, buy a piece of vacant land, and spend your own money to construct and maintain one!

AtLeastICanSpell said...

"Thanks for our great City Council and especially our Mayor, Sue Horgon,"
"Oh yea you should learn to spell."
Perhaps, deborah moe should take her own advice! The mayor's name is HORGAN!

Christian Hosoi said...

"They've really stepped up for their kids, giving them a positive option to expend their energy. "
What about the kids that don't skate? What do they get? Maybe they can go and watch. But then again, their moms will probably have to drive them there.
I suggest we build a park that everyone can use, with rope climbs, climbing wall, etc., that everyone can have the pleasure of using. What makes skaters so special? When I was a kid skating in the early eighties, we didn't have skate parks, we had to find empty pools and other sorts of things to skate on. Today's kids are too used to having things handed to them. Their parents are to blame, making them believe that just because they want something, it's their right to get it. Let Tony Hawk or some other skater has-been donate the money for the skatepark.
I second the suggestion for more lighted crosswalks...otherwise, those spoiled little monsters will get run over by some douche doing 50mph down Ojai Av on their way to their brand new, terribly expensive skate park!