Dec 19 2016

Piedmont’s Skate Park Problems and New Revenue Ideas

 I placed my laptop on the floor as quietly as possible and scooted to the front of my chair, preparing myself to speak in front of Piedmont’s Recreation Commission. “Thank you,” the Commission Chair smiled, and I quickly raised my hand. For the past 30 minutes or so, middle school boys and their moms had been rotating through the stand to bring to light the dangers and potential fixes of Piedmont’s skate park, one of the issues being the park’s minimal hours.

Stepping up to the podium, the Commissioner’s faces gazed back at me expectantly. After stating my name, I inquired, “How big an effect on the budget does the monitor at the skate park have? Is the budget for the monitor the main issue?” A commission member responded that yes, the budget has a heavy influence, as well as the lack of staffing to supply monitors, so I followed, “What is the purpose the monitor serves? Is it absolutely essential to have a monitor there at all times?”, to which another member answered that the monitor serves myriad purposes, from safety to noise control. With the issues cleared up, I smiled a thank you, and walked back to my seat.

 According to their website, Piedmont’s Recreation Commission meets monthly on the third Wednesday to “[make] regarding field allocation at city parks and [advise] the city council regarding the creation or renovation of park properties,” and they fulfilled their purpose completely at this meeting. Though the commission reviewed Hampton Field’s renovation (going well) and gave an update on the new aquatics instructor (also going well), the most heated topic was the Skate Park.

The commission patiently listened to each middle schooler and parent describe the problems with the park and followed through, questioning how they would set the hours, who could remodel a skate park, or if there was an improvement they could make without a complete remodel.

I agree with the commission that a remodel would be extremely costly, and is not pressing enough an issue that the whole community would fundraise for it. I commend Sara Lillevand, Recreation Director, for creating a compromise, ending in a decision to possibly fill the dangerous bowl with the dangerous transitions the middle schoolers and moms had exposed and by adding better street skating obstacles on it. Expanding the park’s hours without a monitor also seems like a good solution the commission could follow up on. To address the safety issue, they could clearly advertise days and hours when a monitor is or is not present, so parents and guardians can always feel safe with their children skating.

Moving to the final issue, the committee chair introduced the annual Haunted House. Due to recent violent clown incidents, the theme had to be changed from Fun House extremely last minute, but was still, as always, a success. One member reminded the group that they tend to lose revenue on the Haunted House, as they have never changed the entrance fee to $5. The commission ponders this, as they know some Piedmonters would be up in arms if they increased the longstanding fee.

Though I hadn’t planned on speaking again, I raised my hand and returned to the podium, explaining that I’m the President of the Piedmont Community Service Crew (PCSC), and reminding them that PCSC has helped the Recreation Department out before, taking over this year’s July 4th Pancake Breakfast, and collaborated with them by running a lemonade stand at the Harvest Festival.

To increase the revenue, I suggested that near the exit of the Haunted House, they set up an area where families can mingle after their exciting experience and buy food and drinks. PCSC members could run the stand, tracking money and selling food, so no staff would have to be paid, and in addition could cook food earlier in the day, as PCSC has lots of cooking experience through making and serving dinner to the homeless at Hot Meals, cooking lunch for low-income seniors at St. Mary’s Center, and more. A commission member’s face lit up, as he agreed that this could increase a few thousand dollars in revenue. Sara Lillevand noted that she’ll keep in contact with me, and affirmed the crew’s work with the pancake breakfast this summer, serving around 2,000 people.

Once the meeting adjourned, I approached Commissioner Steve Roland to ask him a few questions. When I asked him why he joined the Recreation Commission, Roland explained that he wanted to do something civic for the town. He had already been involved in sports through coaching, but he wanted to make an active difference. No specific problem motivated him to join the commission, just the general desire to improve the parks.

Now that he’s joined the committee, Roland still aims for general park improvement throughout Piedmont. Roland revealed his main strategy for taking action: time tables. Much of the commission meetings include discussions and hearing the community’s voice, but the key is to immediately create goals and action plans. Roland wants to expedite the processes to give the community what it wants without being sloppy. He adds that this is a continual progression, and learns more as each issue arises on how to better pick apart the problems and take action on them.

As a high school student learning about government in Civics, meeting an adult with a desire to be involved purely to make a positive impact on the community is inspiring, and sadly, a contrast to some of the political leaders I’ve learned about in previous history and government studies. Because families primarily move to Piedmont for the excellent education, the parents generally are passionate about their children’s Piedmont experience, leading to the inspiring political leaders who serve double time as a parent or guardian.

Nina Adarkar, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Leave a Comment