The Daniel Yetter Memorial Skatepark on Memorial Drive in Hollister turned 20 last year and is starting to show its age.
Fifteen-year-old Gabriel Torres said the patchwork of paint covering graffiti is a problem. “It needs to be either painted or have all the old paint power washed off. There’s too many layers and it’s too uneven.”
Friend Chris Villafuerte, also 15, agreed. “It’s dangerous,” he said. “You can slip out and hurt yourself.”
Keegan Castro and Elias Vasquez, both 22, have their own ideas. Castro pointed to the cracks in the bowl and said, “These need to be fixed; they’re a safety hazard.” Vasquez would like to see some lights so the park can be used in the evening.
Rosalinda Hernandez Sanchez, who brings her son to the park, has concerns about the graffiti.
“It can be pretty graphic,” Sanchez said, “and I think it sends the wrong message to some of the younger kids out here.”
Built in 2000, the skatepark was dedicated in 2002 to the memory of Daniel Yetter, a Hollister resident killed in a skateboard accident when he was 17.
The skatepark is located within Veterans Park, but is not owned by the city. “The property belongs to the county,” said Mike Chambless, former long-time head of the city’s management services department that oversees the park. “The city had an agreement to construct the park and to operate it. That agreement has expired, but it is considered still valid.”
Sanchez started a Facebook page, Hollister Skateboarding: Lords of the Bowl, hoping to start a community conversation about ways to improve the park and make it safer for young skaters.
“It’s a great place for my son to get his exercise,” Sanchez said, “and there is a certain degree of social distancing. I like that he gets connected to the local skate community. But during certain hours of the day, we see a lot of older kids engaging in poor behavior. I would like to see it turned back into a place where anyone can come here and feel safe.”
A few parents have started working on cleaning up the park during their visits and have painted out graffiti, but they hope to create a local skateboard association that can do more.
I would like to see a lot more parents step up and let the city know how important this is to them,” said Sanchez. “Keeping our youth busy, safe and productive is a really good cause.”
Zoraya Rodriguez, a member of the Facebook group, echoed the concern about safety.
“I wish there was more of a police presence,” she said. “I have heard tales of drugs and alcohol, and I have seen transients out here sleeping. Maybe they could just drive by and stop for five minutes just to let people know they were checking it every so often.”
Maintaining the park is a constant problem, according to Chambless.
“The vandalism is heavy out there and it’s unfortunate,” he said. “The city goes out to clean it up and get rid of the broken glass twice a week and they go out two or three times to deal with graffiti. There used to be a fence to keep kids from flying into the street, but the fences are gone now. We worked with an Eagle Scout to build a shade structure over a table out there. It got vandalized pretty badly and we got it repaired.”
Any work that has to be done comes out of the normal operating budget of the city and there are no improvements or projects planned for the park at the moment.
“I think working with the community to beautify our parks is a great example of community leadership,” said Tina Garza, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Hollister. “I know the parents are looking for a safe and clean area for their children to play.”
One possible project would be to rededicate the park to Daniel Yetter, in hopes that recognition of his memory might make vandals less anxious to deface the park.
Reversing the decay of the park would certainly make Torres happy. “There’s not much in Hollister to do except for the skatepark and it’s a great spot to come to,” he said. “But maybe folks can help us skaters out and clean it up for us.”
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