By Ted AYALA
The Glendale Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department took measures Monday to save the Verdugo Skate Park by implementing fee increases on the park’s patrons. Park fees, which had previously only been imposed on non-residents, will now be forced upon residents as well. It was a move that reflected pressure on the department to keep the park open on one hand, and to curb its budget shortfall on the other.
Verdugo Skate Park, which was built in 2004, has been praised as one of the best skate parks in Southern California, especially for its accessibility to both beginning and seasoned skaters.
Gabrielle Goglia, representing the department, explained how continued budget cuts threatened the park’s future. In the fiscal year 2011-12, the department lost approximately $100,000, which had been used to pay for a full-time specialist at the park. So far this year, Goglia reported a loss of $69,000 – which cut into funding for part-time staffers.
“The general fund only allows us to keep the park open on weekends and on GUSD summer vacation days,” said Goglia.
Council gave her department direction to explore the possibility of charging fees in order to ensure the park’s continued survival as a year-round operation. Reduction in operating hours is also part of the department’s cost-saving measures, opening one hour later and closing an hour earlier.
The new fees will include an admission cost of $3 for children and $4 for adults, irrespective of whether they are a local resident or not. Previously only non-residents were obliged to pay for admission to the park. Monthly passes for non-resident adults will increase from $25 to $40. New annual passes for residents will be offered, at $50 and $75 for children and adults respectively. Skating lesson fees will jump from $10 to $40 an hour.
Despite the new fees and cuts in hours, a city report indicated that the park will still be operating at a loss of approximate $13,000 annually.
Goglia cited her department’s implementation of fees and service changes based on comparisons with similar parks in Pasadena and Glendale.
A poll conducted by the department also cited overwhelming support from residents to charge for fees in order to keep the park open.
Whether these fee increases will affect the park’s estimated 12,000 annual visitors was not mentioned.
The new fees and hours will be implemented beginning Oct. 1.