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If city, school

April 14, 2002

districts can

agree, skate

park feasible

By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — If a skate park here is to become a reality in the coming fiscal year, it will require the City Council to form separate agreements with both the elementary and high school districts.

City and school officials think all such agreements paving the way for the skate park could be in place before the end of the fiscal year in June.

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One such agreement, between the city and the Brawley Elementary School District, will be discussed during the Brawley City Council meeting Tuesday. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. in the council chambers, 225 A St.

The council will consider amending a joint-use agreement with the elementary district for land the city and school share. That land, in Parkside Estates off North Imperial Avenue, has been set aside as a future school and park site.

According to the amendment, the city would build a baseball field on land set aside for the park.

That field would be used by the Brawley Union High School District as a practice field for its baseball programs.

That is an important step because plans call for building the skate park on the field west of the Lions Center gymnasium. That property is owned by the high school district and is used as a practice field.

That is where the proposed agreement with the high school district comes into play. If the BUHS board were to agree to give the property to the city — which the district has agreed to in concept — the city would have to build another ball field.

Thus, the amendment with the elementary district for the building of a ball park in Parkside Estates plays a crucial role in the three-way deal.

Garth Isom, superintendent of the high school district, and Howard Sullivan, superintendent of the elementary district, both said their boards are supportive of the skate park project.

Isom said his board voted 3-2 to support in concept the land swap on the property west of the Lions Center. Isom said he does not expect the board to change its position.

Isom said of a skate park, "There is a need for it. Kids need a place to go."

As for the building of ball field for the high school, Sullivan said the elementary board would be ready to approve the amendment to the joint-use agreement with the city if the council accepts some changes to the language of the amendment made by the district's attorney.

Sullivan added if the city votes for the amended agreement Tuesday, the school board could vote on it April 23.

Sullivan said the skate park is an important project because kids need a safe location to practice their sport rather than in "inappropriate" areas where it is unsafe.

The skate park project is expected to cost $391,000. That money was set aside in this fiscal year's budget and will continue to be part of the budget for the new fiscal year.

About $10,000 would be set aside from the skate park budget for the building of a baseball field.

Karin Morgan, director of the city of Brawley Parks and Recreation Department, said there is plenty of funding for both the skate park and new ball field.

She added if all agreements are signed, the bid process for the skate park could start before the end of this fiscal year.

She said once the bids are in and a construction firm is selected, it would take six to 10 weeks to build the park, which already has been designed.

The skate park has been three years in the making. Morgan said it has been a long process, but added it was only in this fiscal year that the city received state grant funding to make the project possible.

The state has provided the city $140,000, development impact fees will cover $150,000 of the project and the remaining $100,000 will come from the city's general fund.

"I think we're almost there," Morgan said, adding, "I think everyone is working hard to cooperate with each other and assist each other."

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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