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Articles

Skate Fence Issues Continue

By Mary M. Long

Chet Hilgers, representing Skate Ojai, squared off with Ojai’s Planning Commission Wednesday to wrestle with a decision over fencing materials for the Skate Park perimeter fence which is now beginning construction.
Rebuking city manager Jere Kersnar, Hilgers chided him for presuming knowledge of the construction. “What I would like to say to Mr. Kersnar,” said Hilgers, “is you haven’t been out there once. So I don’t know how you could talk to any of the guys to figure out how we’re going to install the fence.”
The fence heights were decided on June 22, dividing the fence into three levels, but no decision was made at the time on what type of fencing or materials would be used. The lowest section of fencing will be a 4-foot fence on the parking lot side, which could be expanded to 8 feet if necessary. According to Hilgers, the requirements that this fence be built to facilitate a taller fence in the future are being met by installing fencing posts in a concrete wall. “These posts can be easily cored out and replaced if the fence needs to be extended in the future,” said Hilgers. In an attempt to satisfy the demands of Ojai Police Department that the fencing be easy to see through, coupled with the demands of the Ojai Unified School District that the fence be non-scalable and those of the designer who recommends durability, seemed to leave the commission with two unhappy choices, either the tubular steel prison-style fencing, or a fine mesh PVC link material which is currently in use in correctional facilities. Either choice is oppressive to Skate Park advocates.
The meeting nearly unraveled when the discussions reverted back to the original question of why there is a demand for any fencing at all. With the Skate Park in the center of town and an attraction to residents as well as tourists, Skate Ojai and many of the Planning Commission members would have preferred a clean vista. Santa Barbara, Fillmore and Venice Beach were named as examples of skate parks which are not fenced and are considered to be assets to the community.
“We’ve been there, so let’s not go there again,” said Vice Chair Steven Foster. The No. 1 recommendation of the fencing companies for durability was the steel tubular fencing, similar to that which Santa Paula has erected around its skate park. With the commission dismissing the need for 30-year fencing, since the park has only a 14-year lease on the property, a frustrated Hilgers waved his hands and reminded the commissioners that they have already wasted 14 years in stalling the park project. However, Wendy Hilgers was quick to remind the commission of the possibility that the lease could be extended at any time.                                                                                                       Durability and aesthetics were discussed with the possibility of using standard PVC-coated 2-inch chain link fencing similar to that which is in use at Soule Park and many other recreation areas in Ojai. Originally rejected because it has a tendency to sag or bow after exposure to stress, the commission kept returning to it as the best option. Chain link is also considerably safer than the tubular fencing which may entangle arms and legs with its rigid structure. With practical simplicity, Commissioner  Foster suggested that if a section of chain link failed,

Chet Hilgers, representing Skate Ojai, squared off with Ojai’s Planning Commission Wednesday to wrestle with a decision over fencing materials for the Skate Park perimeter fence which is now beginning construction. Rebuking city manager Jere Kersnar, Hilgers chided him for presuming knowledge of the construction. “What I would like to say to Mr. Kersnar,” said Hilgers, “is you haven’t been out there once. So I don’t know how you could talk to any of the guys to figure out how we’re going to install the fence.” The fence heights were

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