The grassroots fundraising just keeps growing for the Bryce Buchholz skate and bike park planned for Lancaster in memory of the 14-year-old who was killed by a drunken driver a year ago while riding home on his beloved orange BMX bike with a friend.
As of Monday night, project supporters told Lancaster town officials that $188,000 has been raised for the park planned to be located within Keysa Park, a town-owned neighborhood park in the northeast section of the village. That is just $12,000 shy of the $200,000 goal for the first phase of the skate and bike park to be built in Bryce’s honor. It’s a dream that organizers want to become reality by fall, when they want the park built and open for kids.
“I can’t believe we’ve come this far since July 4,” said Bill Buchholz, Bryce’s father, of community-wide fundraising efforts for the park, to be designed by a Southern California company. “To be where we are today is a testament to the community.”
Buchholz and friends David and Angela Watz, who are helping spearhead the skate and bike park, gave an update to town officials in their work session.
But they were somewhat disappointed afterward, having hoped the town Monday would approve the design for the 12,000-square-foot concrete park that would feature a series of stairs, walls and rails that is expected to lure skateboarders and stunt bike riders. A memorial garden also is planned for the bike park with a stone honoring Bryce.
Town officials, while supportive, weren’t ready Monday to sign off on it. There were still some issues to nail down before granting approval, they said. Among them was approving the final design, as well as an agreement allowing organizers to construct and pay for the skate park within a government-owned park before “gifting” it to the town, said Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli.
“We like what we see so far,” Fudoli said afterward. “They’re an ambitious bunch and have raised a lot of money.”
Other questions remain.
“What are the hours?” Police Chief Gerald J. Gill Jr. said after the meeting. Because Keysa Park is tucked in a neighborhood with Vandenberg Avenue as the only access street, he said he could foresee neighbor complaints surfacing if late-night skateboarders stay there past the typical town park hours of dawn to dusk. “Enforceability becomes a concern,” Gill said.
The only formal town action Monday related to the skate park came in the form of a four-point resolution asking the town’s grant consultant to apply for a $100,000 grant through the state Dormitory Authority – $16,625 of which would be earmarked toward construction of the skate and bike park, among other town initiatives.
Volunteers have reached out to local contractors and building suppliers to see if they would donate their services and materials to help construct the park and said the support has been overwhelming.
David and Angela Watz, whose 14-year-old son, Joseph Zarnikau, is one of the core BMX riders and was friends with Bryce, praised the California Skateparks company hired to design the park. “This isn’t some fly-by-night company,” David Watz said, noting it is world-renowned and that the park can be built in three initial phases, beginning with 12,000 square feet.
The town is setting aside 30,000 square feet, in all, in Keysa Park, for the area.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever be done. Our whole excitement is to get Phase One in, and get it in for Bryce’s friends, who are 15 years old now, so they have something to do and before they have an interest in driving,” Bill Buchholz said, adding that there will be future generations of teens interested in the park.
The most recent fundraising event, “Ride for Bryce,” resulted in a $25,000 donation from Joe Basil Chevrolet.