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December 28, 2010 > Letter to the editor: Fremont Government: For or Against the people?

Letter to the editor: Fremont Government: For or Against the people?

Our city government isn't working for us... it is working against us. An example is the skatepark project. Although having an easy "win-win" available, the City has been irresponsibly pursuing a "lose-lose."

Please read this through, because ultimately the City Government's behavior on this project reveals a lot about its behavior in general. This time it is the residents near the proposed skatepark who were overrun by a bad decision. Next time it may be you.

The City of Fremont was faced with a very simple choice - build a skateboard park adjacent to the Waterpark directly adjacent to a residential area or build it in a commercial area near the library and Teen Center; an area that doesn't affect residents and is acceptable to all. Since this skateboard park is planned to be free and unsupervised, open year-round until at least 10 p.m. every night, it should be away from any residential areas.

On September 14, 2010, despite overwhelming evidence, the City went against the better judgment of many Citizens of Fremont and chose to build this skateboard park in a residential area where it was not wanted. The City did not do its homework. This was aptly stated by the editor and publisher of the Tri-City Voice in his Opinion column on September 28, 2010 (http://www.tricityvoice.com/displayPages.php?issue=2010-09-28&page=25). Those alternative locations would have appeased all. The City of Fremont staff admitted on record that the project could have been completed at alternative sites within the original schedule.

There is much concern among Citizens of Fremont that moving the skateboard park a mile away from the location where it peacefully existed for years to a site adjacent to the Waterpark would not only negatively impact revenue from the Waterpark, but would disrupt many residents on Paseo Padre (including the Senior Center). No one should have their home and sanctuary invaded especially when there is a win-win alternative.

The City forced residents to file a lawsuit in order to maintain the present peace and quiet of their neighborhood, especially after dark. Rather than building the skateboard park in an appropriate location and completing it by October 2011, the City's poor choice now threatens the schedule and could delay the skatepark for a long time. Those who want to use the skatepark will now have to wait because employees within the City of Fremont decided to build it in the wrong place.

For what reason?

Ask them. They can't come up with one reason how their choice benefits skateboarders or the Citizens of Fremont. This was publically noted during the council meeting on September 14th.

The City of Fremont's organizational chart shows Citizens of Fremont at the top; the City reports to them. In reality, Citizens are at the mercy of a few who dictate to them. To be truthful, the organizational chart should be updated. Even if this is the case, can anyone with common sense dispute the following arguments regarding the skatepark?

Visibility is important at such a facility. Sites by the library or Teen Center are far superior to a site blocked from view on three sides. The City admitted that the visibility at the Waterpark site was not as good as the alternate sites.

Cost - The city claims the Waterpark site is cheapest, but they never analyzed the Teen Center site which should be cheaper because utilities and bathrooms are already there. The city is actually hiding the true costs of the Waterpark site. Among other deceptions, they are trying to convince people that 640 feet to the nearest restroom at the Waterpark site is reasonable.

Convenience - No contest here. The area near the Teen Center is a mile closer to places to eat, BART, hospitals, the police station, etc.. The Waterpark site is only close to residents.

Schedule - The City acknowledged, on record that the alternate sites could be completed within the same schedule.

Parking - Those who have visited the Waterpark during summer weekends already know that finding a place to park is difficult. Why even consider adding an activity there? (What happens during Skateboarding Expos that draw from throughout the Bay Area and fill parking spots long before the revenue generating Waterpark opens at 11 a.m.?) The City claimed there is SUBSTANTIAL parking available at the Waterpark site to accommodate a skateboard park. Photo evidence proves they either knowingly lied to help justify their position or had no idea of the real situation. Only the alternative sites have substantial parking available.

Ask the city to do a logical analysis that justifies their choice. The only such analysis done thus far using the City's original criteria, even giving them all benefits of the doubt (that the Waterpark site won't require a restroom or costly improvements at the nearest pedestrian crossing), revealed that the top two sites are:

#1 choice is the site near the corner of Stevenson Blvd & Paseo Padre Pkwy
#2 choice is the site adjacent to the Teen Center
(The Waterpark site was a distant last)

This analysis did not even include earthquake and liquefaction concerns. The official United States (USGS) seismic maps reveal that the Waterpark site is in the worst location of all. It is very close to the Hayward fault and in a known liquefaction zone which means the skatepark can settle and crack without an earthquake, totally broken in an earthquake. Why waste $2 million taxpayer dollars to build in a place at such high risk of being damaged? The alternate sites are not in a liquefaction zone, away from the Hayward fault.

What is left? Roger Ravenstad, the architect for this project has stated, "The City doesn't want to undo something that they have already done, because it makes them look like they don't know what they are doing." This infers that perception is more important to them than substance.

In summary, the City made a decision a long time ago to put the skatepark by the Waterpark. As the record shows, sites by the library or Teen Center were not considered. When Citizens investigations revealed that those sites were available and better suited for this use, instead of embracing the new information and doing what is best for both residents and the skateboard community, the City stayed its course. They did not want more work and tried to take the easy way out by sticking to their original plan. So although there were much better alternatives, the City Government chose to be lazy, arrogant, selfish and disrespectful to its Citizens, sticking with a bad decision.

This skatepark decision is an example of the City abusing its Citizens. How can a reputable city do that?

Logon to the city website www.fremont.gov to communicate your concerns. Demand that your government not lose sight of its primary purpose, to represent its Citizens.

Bob Fifield
Fremont

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