Since Glendale started charging all users of the Verdugo Skate Park in October 2012, the number of patrons dropped by 49% to roughly 6,800 people, according to a city report released to the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission this week.
Despite the drop in attendance, revenue from the park skyrocketed due to the new fees.
The skate park was on the verge of closing in summer 2012 as the city struggled to close a $15.4 million budget gap. But some City Council members fought to keep the park open, so officials started charging residents, who once could use the park for free, fees of $3 and $4 for youth and adults, respectively.
Before the change, only nonresident adults had to pay a fee — $2. Now they must pay $4 to use the park at 1621 Canada Blvd.
As a result, the city’s revenues from the 15,000-square-foot skate park jumped to $17,424 between Oct. 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013, up from $195 during the prior period, said Community Services Supervisor Gabrielle Goglia.
Still, the skate park is about $50,000 in the red because revenues generated by entrance fees, lessons and filming fall behind its costs, such as two paid staff members on duty while it’s open.
The park used to be subsidized by the city’s General Fund, which pays for library, police and other general services.
However, in 2012, the park was shifted to another fund. Now it is subsidized by other park facilities that make money, such as the Glendale Sports Complex.
Officials anticipated the loss, Goglia said, adding that some city programs, such as the skate park and summer camps, may take a financial hit, but they’re of value to the community.
She added that most of the falling attendance is due to fewer nonresident adults coming to the park.
In July 2012, before parks officials approved the new fee structure, 76 people were asked what option they would prefer: closing the park, charging a fee or leaving it unstaffed. Of the 76 respondents, 72% said they’d prefer to pay a fee.
Parks Commissioner Peter Fuad wasn’t deterred by the drop in attendance, especially if most patrons leaving to go elsewhere are adults.
“If the goal is to serve Glendale youth, the program has been successful,” Fuad said.