Fremont skate park construction delayed at least one year
Facility had been scheduled to open in 2011.
By Matthew Artz
Posted: 01/13/2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Updated: 01/13/2011 08:22:14 AM PST
FREMONT -- A long-awaited skate park won't be completed this year as scheduled after the city backed down in a legal fight against opponents of the park's location.
The skateboarding facility, proposed for the southwest corner of Central Park, adjacent to the water park on Paseo Padre Parkway, now will be built in 2012 at the earliest, city officials said.
Facing a lawsuit from skate park neighbors, Fremont council members on Tuesday rescinded their approval of the skate park, which the city acknowledged was based on an inadequate environmental report.
However, the vote was hardly a victory for nearby residents on Paseo Padre because a majority of the council members reiterated their intention to locate the skate park across from their homes, rather than move it down the block, adjacent to the Fremont Teen Center near Sailway Drive.
"They would rather stick with their original decision than have to acknowledge that they made a mistake," said park neighbor Dinesh Maheshwari after the City Council meeting.
Skate park advocates were pleased with the council's refusal to consider changing the site location, even though the city's failure to perform the proper environmental studies will delay the park's opening.
"The city has been completely professional about it," said Tony Pimentel owner of the Caliskatz skate shop in Fremont. "I just don't think it's fair that a couple of people can change what the entire community of Fremont gets."
Fremont has been without a skate park for about two years, after a temporary facility that had long outlived its intended life span near Sailway Drive was removed from Central Park.
But in planning the $1.2 million facility, the city neglected to conduct the proper environmental analysis.
City officials raced to complete a necessary report before the council approved the project in September, but the final product likely would not have passed legal muster, city officials said.
"We didn't quite cross all the t's and dot all the i's, so we have to go back and do that," Mayor Bob Wasserman said.
If the planned environmental studies show no need for deeper analysis, construction of the park should begin next year, officials said.
The council approved the skate park over the objection of neighbors -- and lawsuit threats -- in September, arguing that it was the city's best chance to complete the park this year.
As was the case then, the council split Tuesday as to whether it should consider other Central Park sites.
Councilwomen Sue Chan and Anu Natarajan wanted the city to also perform the environmental studies at the site near the Teen Center, which isn't directly across Paseo Padre from private homes.
City Attorney Harvey Levine effectively concurred, telling the council that "information is not a bad thing."
But Wasserman and Councilmen Bill Harrison and Dominic Dutra said the city should only focus on the current site unless the upcoming environmental studies showed that it wasn't workable.
"We can move that down the street, and we have a new set of people who are impacted," Wasserman said. "It's conceivable we (would) have a new lawsuit."