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August 30, 2011 > Letter to the editor: City neglects safety

Letter to the editor: City neglects safety

Fremont leaders seem more intent on padding City pockets than with the safety of their citizens. Without hesitation, they approved over 1/2 million taxpayer dollars under the pretense of benefitting teenagers (see "Teen Center Facade" -

Rather than keeping a skateboard park in the same convenient area where a temporary version peacefully (and safely) existed for years, they want it moved a mile away to an unsafe area. Among many concerns, this site would be in a known USGS liquefaction hazard zone and no longer surrounded by safe street crossings, a mile further away from ANY emergency response when seconds count. This much larger $2 million facility would attract significantly increased out-of-town skateboard traffic that would pass by the Senior Center and through the heart of Central Park to make the BART connection.

A tragic explosion in San Bruno revealed a hidden problem in one horrific day. While the City of Fremont may not be able to top that, they are creating the potential for another tragedy which will be exposed over succeeding years.

The following recent articles are about incidents likely to be repeated in Fremont if the new skatepark is constructed in the wrong location:

Santa Cruz Sentinel 7/28/11 front page - a few weeks ago, an 83 year-old woman was killed while in the crosswalk by a skateboarder...
( )

San Jose Mercury 7/30/11 front page - 2 acre skate park at Winchester closed 30 years ago
"3 year run of concussions and compound fractures"
"opening day the paramedics were there three times... and there were a lot of broken bones ...

The same newspaper in another article on page B3 noted that a 40-year-old skateboarder was in critical condition after his helmet had fallen off before he hit the ground...

later article ( )

While those working for the City may cross their fingers and say, "Nothing can go wrong," this is the real world where accidents and the unthinkable do happen. Those in charge at the Fremont Waterpark have already been involved in a tragedy when a teenage girl died at the Concord Waterpark where they previously worked at the time. Rather than learning from that tragedy and encouraging supervision, the City of Fremont is discouraging supervision by charging an entrance fee of $9 to non-participants who can help ensure the safety of children in their care.

I was hit by a car while in a crosswalk when I was 11-years-old and couldn't walk for days. This was in a much safer situation than the very dangerous Paseo Padre Parkway crosswalk at Baylis Street where traffic zips along at an unimpeded 40+ MPH. Whenever parking in the Waterpark area is full (which already happens most summer weekends and much more frequently than the City will admit), cars park along the west side of Paseo Padre Parkway which blocks views of both drivers and pedestrians, resulting in extremely dangerous potentials for those trying to cross in the eastbound direction. I have already witnessed two accidents and have heard of many others.

If the City goes through with their plan to put a one-acre skateboard park next to the Waterpark before putting a safer infrastructure in place, inevitably more and fatal accidents are going to happen at this dangerous crossing. Someone with their attention focused more on the skateboard park than on hidden and unimpeded on-coming traffic, is an accident waiting to happen.

The public should not stand for this. A simple but safe pedestrian-activated signal crossing at Baylis & Paseo Padre Parkway and a proper restroom for skateboarders should be a requirement if the park is to be constructed at this location. This is an example of a group that doesn't think things through and is prone to creating problems rather than solving them. They wasted money on a Waterpark Public Address system that didn't even have a volume control. As a result, for over a year, every Waterpark announcement unnecessarily disturbed everyone within at least 500 feet, even though they could be well outside the Waterpark.

Despite complaints, the City couldn't figure out that putting a closed cell "sock" over the microphone or putting speakers in series rather than parallel would attenuate the situation (among other possibilities). They didn't do anything until finally deciding to buy another PA system with variable volume.

They also put permanent signs stating the Waterpark rules at entrances to the Waterpark. Anything exposed to children (and especially intended to be permanent) should be thoroughly checked, for any misspelling would confuse and be improperly imprinted upon their impressionable minds. Whatever the City did, it wasn't proofread by someone beyond the fifth grade. Among the glaring errors were "there" mouth (instead of the possessive "their" mouth). After leaving this in place for over two years, the City finally patched a correction over the biggest sign, but they have yet to correct other smaller signs.

Some of this may sound petty, but the lack of thoroughness is astounding and who knows what else they skimped on? Of serious and obvious concern, why is the City unnecessarily putting skateboarders and pedestrians at major risk by trying to move the skateboard park a mile away, out to the edge of Central Park into a known hazard area? A much safer area of Central Park between Stevenson Blvd and the "Teen Center" has already been acknowledged by city staff to be doable on schedule (and even helps to alleviate parking at the Waterpark), so why are they trying to force this into an area that will only create inevitable problems for the entire community? The attitude should be that one casualty is one too many rather than, "Well, these things happen."

Bob Fifield

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