Residents shoot down skate park

Lagunans' voices were heard loud and clear at a community skate park meeting Thursday night: no skate park at Moulton Meadows Park.

About 200 residents, most from Arch Beach Heights, turned out early Thursday evening at Moulton Meadows Park to share input on an a proposed skate park at the site. By the end of the meeting, only 75 remained.

They were in favor of a skate park, just not at the proposed site.

Tension was thick at the meeting — one young man called a lady opposed to a Moulton Meadows skate park a “hater.”

Councilman Steve Dicterow foreshadowed many neighborhood residents' sentiments in his opening statement, with members of the Tony Hawk Foundation alongside.

"A lot of people don't want a skate park in this neighborhood," said Dicterow, who formed a subcommittee with Mayor Kelly Boyd to evaluate bringing a skate park to Laguna.

Dicterow and Boyd acknowledged residents' concerns: noise, parking, and trash. They will not pursue a skate park at Moulton Meadows.

Laguna resident Marty Kansriddle plays baseball near skate parks in other cities and is worried about what such a park could bring.

"What I've seen for 12 years now is a lot of trash, drug use, a little vandalism," Kansriddle said. "With all due respects to the (well-behaved) kids, we would be naive to think these things wouldn't happen here."

Laguna resident Heather Fish said she spends hundreds of dollars in gas driving her children to skate parks in surrounding cities and waits for them in her car, allowing her time to write. A mother is an effective police presence, she contended.

"If I hear an older kid cuss, I say, 'Watch your language,'" Fish said.

A recurring concern was that a skate part would nullify the park's peaceful nature.

Lee Kucera has lived in the neighborhood since 1977.

"We were promised a passive, neighborhood park," Kucera said. "The soccer field was shoved down our throat.

"This is my backyard. If I want a picnic, I come here. I favor a skate park, but this is the wrong location."

A skate park would need to cater to the local community, said Community Services Director Ben Siegel.

Residents suggested other possible locations such as along Laguna Canyon Road or Coast Highway.

"There's a potential for a regional draw, which is not the idea," Siegel said about their input.

Ben Young lives near Moulton Meadows Park and suggested a community vote for a park.

"Pick three spots in town and put them to a vote," Young said. "This community doesn't own this park anymore than the community near Alta Laguna Park owns that area."

Thurston Middle School student Sam Dameshek skates around town every weekend and is tired of people "giving me a bad look."

"The purpose of a skate park is to keep kids off the streets and into a safe place to skate," Dameshek said.

Dicterow closed the 1 1/2-hour meeting with a commitment to continue the quest for a skate park.

"I did not run for [City] Council because we wanted to do what we wanted to do," Dicterow told the crowd. "I did not have a good time tonight. It was worse than I expected. We are going to find the right place."

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