Jul 09, 2023

Roller hockey and skating allowed to continue at Grand Ave. Park

Roller hockey goals are on the rink at Grand Avenue Park. In the background are residents playing pickleball on Wednesday morning. The rink will continue to support pickleball and skating.

A group of roller hockey enthusiasts sat on one side of council chambers and pickleball fans sat on the other side engaging the Chino Hills Parks and Recreation Commission in a lively debate on the future use of "Rink One" at Grand Avenue Park.

After an almost two-hour discussion, the commission voted 4-1 on Wednesday to allow both groups to co-exist, with Commissioner Greg Higgins stating that not enough people are playing roller hockey on the rink.

"I was surprised we came to the conclusion we did because the numbers don't add up," he said, pointing out that statistics presented by the city show that the number of people who show up for open play has dwindled, especially over the past year.

He also noted that surveys about preferred recreation amenities taken over the last few years for the Parks Master Plan showed an interest in pickleball, basketball and a skate park, but there were "zero requests for roller hockey."

Commissioner Samantha James-Perez led the charge to keep roller hockey, stating that the city should not take away a recreational amenity that is so scarce and which people are enjoying. "Even though the roller hockey community is small, it doesn't mean they don't need to be considered," she said.

Commissioner Al Jackson said the city should be able to find a vendor that can provide a multi-purpose surface facility for both groups.

As an "avid roller skater," he noted the growing popularity of roller skating.

"If roller skaters knew about Grand Avenue Park, they would be here," he said. "If we move from thinking ‘roller hockey’ to ‘roller skating,’ we could find a surface that would help us," he said.

Oscar Huezo, who spoke on behalf of the roller hockey supporters, said the closest rinks are in West Covina and Corona, but those are sports rinks that are not open to the public.

"We always have players on Thursdays nights," he said. Open play is available at the park on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Karina Guzman said she frequently sees families bringing their young children to practice roller hockey or just to go roller skating.

Abdul Aziz said he has been playing at the rink since 1999. "This rink is very special, it's a staple in the community," he said. "I believe we can do a lot with this rink if we use it the right way."

Community services director Jonathan Marshall said the rink needs to be resurfaced.

Roller hockey requires a less dense surface while pickleball courts require surfacing similar to a tennis court, he said.

He strongly recommended that roller hockey be removed because of the dwindling numbers. He said pickleball players have raised concerns that the surface has become too slippery.

"I would just say this," Mr. Marshall said. "We have staff there at every moment who sees who comes and goes. I can appreciate there is an impression of numbers by some, but I stand by the numbers we are presenting," he said. "I firmly believe the numbers we are portraying because we have staff there, we’re not guessing," he said.

Commissioner James-Perez suggested the city is not doing enough to promote roller skating or roller hockey in the recreational brochure.

"I think we can do a better job," she said.

"If Commissioner Jackson is a roller skater, I’m sure there are many more," she said.

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